Howdy Partners #33: How to Get the Most Out of Partnership Communities

Do you already have a favorite partner community that serves as your go-to resource? Do you have a few that you use for different things? Or are you newer to the partnerships field and still looking for your niche, your people that you can learn from and help as you go about your journeys together?

No matter where you stand as far as your personal partnerships community, this episode will help you get more value out of your current resources and network. Ben and Tom talk all things partner community, from ideas they have about how communities could be more valuable to the mindset with which to approach communities as your joining.

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Full Transcript:

Tom Burgess  0:03  

Howdy partners, welcome back. We got a fun topic today, I think, as we always do, been talking about partnership communities. And I feel like this is something that is blown up in the past two months, three months, four months, let's let's dive in. So talk about the rise in popularity. Because it's like something that wasn't, I don't know, it was probably there. I think last year is when I got connected with partnership leaders. And just, it's now there, that's now a thing. Partnership communities is a huge thing.

Ben Wright  0:36  

Ya know, I love it. And I love the topic, I think on Emerson tangent, tangential kind of ties between the growing popularity and partnerships just as a discipline. And I think you start to hear about more and more and more companies focusing on partnerships, more people talking about partnerships. And I think as a result of that, people have been clever enough and natron team upon ship leaders and a scenario, cloud software Association, which is another, you know, large one had been clever enough to realize that actually, there's no kind of central point for people to interact, get to know each other, learn from each other. And so I think those two things kind of met at Ted Ted, and as a result of that, they've created these kinds of great communities, which, which now offer such kind of education and resources for us as, as partnership people.

Tom Burgess  1:23  

Yeah. I for 1am, a big fan of partnership leaders. And I think it's, it's pretty robust, right, like in just communities in general. You know, when I was on the job on partnership leaders was the first place that I went to go connect. And then funny enough, like, talk about community, you myself, and we'll started this podcast almost a year ago. And when I was on the job hunt, you were the one that helped connect me to Kyle crane really, there's it's just this like, entangled web of, of relationships that are happening. I think, one of the, one of the statements that we we always talk about on this podcast is, you know, partnerships, voices need to be the loudest, or you need to be your own cheerleader, and really, like fight for, you know, the partnership world and whatever ecosystem or whatever company you're working for. And I think that that bleeds into just how strong partnership communities are. So I guess in terms of, you know, now that it's on the rise, we talked about, you know, the cloud software Association, partnership leaders, and I think even something like Sastre at this point, you know, partner, hackers there, too. But

Ben Wright  2:40  

then as well, I think that pivoting just on a ship with them with crossbeam, as well. And so, again, like pavilions, a massive, massive community, right, they've got venture capital, like huge community of executives. And actually like you think about that for those sides. Wonderful pavilion, because they get this kind of growing, go to market expertise as part of that they're offering, but also broadly for all of us as partnership professionals, because if you think about if you've got CROs, you've got VPs of sales, you've got even CEOs and those those communities, and they're now being told the power of partnerships, they're now being told what is possible with partnerships, it's only going to open up more job opportunities, more kind of companies looking to do partnerships. And so to your point, like even looking outside of these specific partnership related communities, more of these kind of tangential sales, revenue type communities are now starting to bring in by Rep genius partnered with panaca, as well, right. So like, yeah, you've got all these revenue communities now thinking like, hey, we need to know more about partnerships. And so yeah, I agree. It's not just pure partnership communities, but also, there's these other ones outside that are now then our adult partnerships.

Tom Burgess  3:53  

Yeah, and I think the one thing that that I always try and revert back to is, you know, partnerships can be chaotic, it can be crazy. And I think the most clear picture of that is when you go from organization to organization, it just, you know, yeah, you might be focusing on the same, you know, programs you might be, you might be working a referral program, you might have an affiliate program, ISV space, whatever it may be, but it's still, it's just kind of like that green space. And I think that's what attracts us to partnerships. But in the same vein, having these communities is something that I think is bringing a lot of consistency and structure together which the way that partnerships wins is by being consistent and by consistently like voicing your message and and connecting with the proper teams internally. So I I'm excited for where the community aspect is heading and I just mean just the partner the partner up movement that's happened in the past couple of months like reveal partner hacker pavilion crossbeam like these are really solid found nations that are not going to stop. And I, I think what it also does is bridges the gap between, you know, if we're in SAS, and we're talking about technology, being able to have partnerships that are strengthening each other's platforms is a win win. It's not like we're competing. It's not like we're, we're out to get each other. It's it's just, it's going to make it a lot better.

Ben Wright  5:24  

Yep, yeah. 100% Yeah. 100%. I think your point about like the, and again, we've talked about this numerous times, I think every partnership person listen to this will will understand it. But like, the ability to gain favor, help, you'll see as we understand the power of partnerships is one of the most difficult and probably most critical components of building a good partnership programs. And now if they're starting to hear it, not just from you, as a partner manager, but also from their peers, also from these communities, they they get information from to your point, I think they just yeah, it helps everybody at the end of the day in, in fossil.

Tom Burgess  6:02  

Yeah. So let's, let's, let's dig a little bit deeper. I think from a relevancy standpoint. You know, let's say, you're a partner manager, or just a Director of Partnerships at a an organization that just invested. I think, on in, in one, Lane communities could be very noisy, you know, like, I think from like a focus standpoint, in terms of, you know, my work my role, but also kind of blending that together with helping to scale programs. What do you look for in terms of the benefits? Or I guess, what should someone that is a partner professional, who's like, yeah, maybe I will check out one of these communities? What what, how do you distill it down to make it very simple and not over? complicated for them?

Ben Wright  6:44  

Yes, is a really good point. Because possibly, this is wonderful, but it is noisy. Like there's 18, different Slack channels, everybody's posting them constantly. And so it's like, well, how do I? How do I focus on the things that matter? And I think for me, the most benefit I've got out of communities, like Pong should be does is first meet education. And what I mean by that is, there's always going to be somebody in that community that has done what you're attempting to do. And that could be a VP that's now like, moved from your direct position up to VP. And so hitting them up in a community that you're part of it automatically gives you that layer of trust. So instead of just reaching out from LinkedIn, you have just this random person with no tie to them as a as a relationship, being in this community that enables you to reach out to them easily. And it also gives you that stamp of approval to say hey, we're both pa this set this group, this punch VITAS group, and so they're more willing to answer your question. And so I think that's the first thing that I've used, and recommend people listening to this use is if you have an issue in your partner program Shoal, sucked in and out, there'll be some information that, that has nothing bad connects them, somebody has actually done what you're attempting to do, hearing it from them understanding how they went about it, and getting some time to talk through it. So that's, that's kind of pillar one of how to use these communities is really as an educational resource to learn from people that have kind of been there and done that, but I don't know if you've already tapped on that, like, if you've used it in that way. But that's definitely I would say, the main thing that I have done, to be honest with you.

Tom Burgess  8:14  

Yeah, I think, I think there's been a couple times where it's just like, I wonder if someone has a resource for this, you know, like, mutual success plan, I remember, like, you know, a couple months ago, like, just going in there and someone's like, Hey, I build this template for like, Moops, or mutual success plans. I'm like, this is killer. Like, it's, it's nothing revelational or it's not revolutionary, yet revolutionary, due to Thursday brand. It's not like groundbreaking stuff. But it is, it points back to like, we're all in this together. And if we can build that, that kind of community, I would also like chime in to I think, you know, like, you touched on education, but it's also a really good spot to ask questions. And because like, here's the thing as a partnership, professional, ed or organization, there's only if I have a very specific question about partnerships, or, you know, like, how I should approach this. There's only two or three people if that, that I could realistically go to and be like, I want to get your opinion on this. Rather than just use the user partner communities as a forum because you will get you will get multi solution messages you'll get you just a wealth of knowledge. And I think that's really magical.

Ben Wright  9:32  

And piggybacking piggybacking on that as well like and I don't know if this is the same in other roles, but as partnership people we're not competitive in our nature because we partner right? We're trying to pawn out to have mutual success. And so I have found is like this, there's not many people that will turn down a call or refuse to answer your question, right? Even if you work for a computing company. A lot of people will understand that actually like as well as partnering is net benefit and so you know, So the other piece, specifically about partnerships, I've realized is everybody's very willing to help out share information. And so an image adds to it as well.

Tom Burgess  10:07  

Yeah, that's awesome. Let me just let's take a hot take here. What's your favorite community? And why?

Ben Wright  10:14  

It's interesting, because I think, I mean, I think partnership leaders has the most from a, like, the most amount of members that I have gotten value from. And, again, I think the beauty of that is actually using it correctly. And so even I like the community it has started to, because the more members you add, the more noisy it gets, the more difficult is actually to find the mission you want. And so I think that's the only piece for me like, once you reach a certain scale, which is wonderful. When I love that, and I loved it keeps growing, it does become harder to control the the member experience, right of like, okay, we've now got 15, Slack channels, we've now got 10,000 balls. Yeah, how do you possibly make sure that people are finding the right information at the right times? And so I guess that would be my only kind of concern with these communities is how do you make sure and it's really down to you, right, it's really down to you to go and find the right channels, find the right people. And now he gets me on to, before we get away too much from like the value and how to leverage these communities. Especially if you're starting a brand new partner program and you're looking to grow, chances are like your target partners are going to be inside that community as well. And so, again, similar point I made earlier, because you already have this badge that, hey, I'm a PA CSA, or I'm a PA partnership leaders. If you're looking to do outreach with potential partners, it makes it so much easier just to reach out to that community. I did it a couple of times to help Scott leverage deli call, Hey, you know, we should probably talk if you do this, we do this could be a good fit. And so again, like I would say, that's another really good tactic to use leverage in these communities to actually find potential partners, talk to him, and, you know, actually sign as a partner. So that that's another piece. Yeah. Again, helps, I think.

Tom Burgess  12:02  

So what you're saying is we need more SMB partner communities, rather than burgeoning enterprise ventures?

Ben Wright  12:10  

Well, yeah, I don't know. I think if I was gonna, like, design my ideal upon you, which again, is pie in the sky. And once you reach scale, it's very difficult to do. I think you'd almost have like tracts of content. And so like, I'm a product marketing manager, what are the channels that directly apply to me that almost like I'm verified to talk about? So that's the other piece, right? Like, you kinda want to verify that the people the right and stuff in those channels actually know that doing. And I think pairing that with, like, email content and newsletters that that correlate to me would be useful, right. So instead of me having unpin, a paying member, I shouldn't have to search for the stuff I want, I should be given stuff, which is valuable, and keeps me coming back. And so that would be like my pie in the sky way of running one of these communities is like, have upon a marketing specific sub branch, which you go in, you can, you can be in a mastermind group with other partner marketers, that can be content buyers, etc, which is sent out to you. And so that, for me would be like the ideal scenario which quiets the noise and actually gives me relevant information easily, I think,

Tom Burgess  13:15  

yeah. So it's like transport. It's like, taking masterclass and putting it into a forum into a community. It's like, you got your tracks. And it's, it's kind of like, you know, from a partnership lens, you got to walk the walk and talk the talk, like we enable all the time. So communities need to enable and I mean, like, Jesse would be great for this, like, let's get fluency involved in, like power up communities, I think that's because that's something that we're missing. And in like, it's, I feel like, I feel like enablement, or just like decluttering, the noise is really hard and partnerships, because once again, you have to when you're when you're partnering, you have to talk about relevant sales collateral, you have to talk about relevant product updates, you have to talk about relevant, you know, feature changes or support issues and it like, we always talk about how partner professionals need to wear several different hats. But I wish there was a way to make it easier so that we could shed those hats really easy and make, make sure our partners had the relevant information in a very easy, tangible, digestible format. And the same goes for us so it Yeah, that's a that's a really good point.

Ben Wright  14:25  

And it's like, I know it's probably more complex. And I put because for example, if you're a Director of Partnerships, you probably all wearing the marketing hat you're wearing the enablement hat, especially when you pray program, right. Which is fine, but at the same time, like, again, the the way it structure the moon, which is in all of these slack communities, which is like 100 channels everybody's, you know, in, contributed in, everybody's asking questions. There's not like QA, and using Slack search sometimes isn't the most intuitive way of doing it. And so if there was like a really hot topic where a lot of people were commenting and offering suggestions like flipping that into a bit of collateral like he had, this is the most common Ed, post in this in this group this week, we've distilled it down into a blog post, but you can use this as a tactical step on how to do to find a marketing or sales, whatever it might be. And so yeah, that would be like anybody that does listen to this that's involved in partnership communities, that's the piece that has made me like a bit. Know, I'm over at the lake a little bit disillusioned with the quality of information I'm receiving, because the other piece you'll find is these committees are only as good as the people that contribute to them. And so if people like me are getting overwhelmed, and not getting value from all of these channels, then I'm going to stop writing and stop posting, which then dilutes the value that everybody else is getting ran. So this is really difficult mix between incentivizing the right people to comment, and then distilling information or already selling off information that's

Tom Burgess  15:53  

relevant. Yeah, yeah. Another good point. Man, it's, it's tough. Like, it's, once again, like, we love these communities, and I think we're just kind of riffing on on where we're heading. And I think just to get back into the community, topic or not, we're on topic, we're just we're now we're now coming up with our next company, essentially, what we're doing, but Okay, coming back to the idea of like, you know, if you're jumping into a community, like, take it slow, take it easy, like go in go in with like, maybe an open mind, I think is like, maybe one of the more simple ways to approach it, because you can get overwhelmed. On the flip side, you know, how how, how do these communities look at, you know, like an active member, and I guess like for for someone that's trying to build out their brand, or build out their name, because we've also talked about how partnerships, you know, there's no major in college yet yet. But at the same time, like this, this your career path, and Partnerships has so much potential trajectory, and communities is a great way to get your name out there, I feel like you and will have done that really well. So what would you say to someone that wants to join a community to maybe start building their brand or building, you know, like, their next idea, and just being a voice in the space? How do they get started there?

Ben Wright  17:12  

And I think is the same as like, how do you build your brand on LinkedIn, right, like actually contribute and writing and posting, don't just be the person in the background, which takes all the information doesn't get any back?

Tom Burgess  17:23  

Let me just let me just write down some notes. As

Ben Wright  17:27  

best you know, right? Like, I mean, if you if you never contribute, then How is anybody ever going to know one who you are, but secondarily, like, all these people who sit in the background a bit, because I feel like they're embarrassed almost, which is, which is crazy, because if you've got that information, you do the job, if you want to contribute, just contribute, and he's gonna judge you. Right? Yeah. And you know, it's difficult taking that first step all the time to put us on LinkedIn or to comment on a post. But ultimately, like everybody's had different experiences and partnerships, everybody's opinion is valuable. There's not like a one size fits all, or, like you said, a college degree is the way that you do it. And so I think like in these communities, contributing and getting an email there will lead to other opportunities. Like for example, you write a really good response, Chris, or ash, or reach out and be like, hey, we'd love to have you on a webinar on our webinar, and then get into like the audience with more people, then maybe gives you a LinkedIn pose, which you start doing LinkedIn. So like, although it says a lot of these things, just take that initial confidence, take the first step and start contravene, but once you do, it becomes far easier. I think it's just that initial kind of, so to speak.

Tom Burgess  18:28  

Yeah, for sure. So let's let's, let's wrap this up with one final take. Where, where do you think partnership communities are heading? What do you think this looks like in a year or two years?

Ben Wright  18:42  

Yeah, great question. So I think partially is announced, they go into, like New Zealand, AIPAC. Now, you know, which is another big community. And so I think for me, they'll have to be a point where that one singular Slack community is broken down into micro niche communities. And same membership price, but actually, like, probably focused on specific skill development, because after a while, I think what we'll find is a partnership leaders gets to, to like 200,000 members, which will be amazing, they'd be more millionaires, Asher and team, right, but like, just more sustainable, that's not sustainable from like a value perspective, everybody's 10 600 bucks, like it can just be, we give you access to 10,000 people because LinkedIn gives you access 10,000 people and so there needs to be a unique take on skill development and knowledge. And actually, like I said, I think the best way to go is developing tracks and then based on your role, you'll put into a track with some slack groups and some content that aligns with it.

Tom Burgess  19:41  

Yep, yep. certifications, like member specific content. Like I think there's so much opportunity for these communities to, you know, really like once they have a firm grasp on their, their network and their their community like pay now how can we translate this into something that is helping and it's nothing new but I see that in terms of the direction of where you know someone like a partnership leaders is heading where everyone else in the space like if you go to all these conference like set like wills at SAS connect right now guarantee there's a lot of like specific education because that's all it is right like in that's what a conference does, but it's going to be micro doses of that and it's going to be really cool to see.

Ben Wright  20:24  

Yep. 100% love it. We'll call it this has been fun.

Tom Burgess  20:27  

Alright, cheers guys. catch you all next week.

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