Partnerships with other agencies can be very productive — but they can also prove to be an unhelpful distraction.
Tread slowly into these relationships, just as you would if you brought on an equity partner in your business. It takes time to learn how you work with each other and what kind of terms for the partnership will be best.
The best partnerships usually develop organically because you found yourself working alongside another agency on a project or one of you was hired by the other to get some work done.
Be careful about overestimating the returns on a partnership, however. The biggest benefits usually come in the earliest days as the agencies move through their lowest-hanging fruit to pass along.
Most — though not all — partnerships end up being one-way streets despite the best of intentions on both sides. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you need to be realistic about it.
Good partners supplement the work you do but are not directly competitive. If you are simply an overflow handler for their own work, chances are it will dry up at some point.
Similarly, if they currently offer (or are thinking about offering) the service that you provide, you may find yourself educating them about how to do the work effectively before they do it themselves. Again, that’s not necessarily bad as long as you understand it.
Finally, don’t look to partnerships to solve your business development problems. You likely won’t be able to rely solely on partnerships to fill your revenue needs, so be sure you have an effective approach that includes partnerships as just one of the prongs.