Any given workweek can throw a heap of change and volatility your way. How are you supposed to keep your balance? The best way is to count on your partner ecosystem of people you trust.
Think of them as a network of informal business partners, or your go-to collaborative experts. Whatever term you use, they’re the people who keep you sure-footed as you navigate the latest change, request or demand lobbed at you.
We can take on any challenge with our trusted team of partners and vendors, who assemble faster than the Avengers when we need them.
Here’s what you should know to choose your partners carefully.
The customer experience you deliver depends on your partner ecosystem
If you haven’t thought in terms of having a partner ecosystem, consider high-tech companies such as Cisco, who inspired our approach to building a professional network to meet customer needs.
Cisco’s channel partner program created a partner ecosystem of network distributors, integrators, developers and others to offer software, services and solutions, all of which are part of the Cisco customer experience.
The customer is at the center of a partner ecosystem, with all members combining their specialized abilities to deliver on the customer’s objectives.
In our world of event management, the customer experience must be seamless regardless of how many vendors are involved. To produce the Cloud CEO Summit and The Cloud 100, Team Lightspeed managed 17 different vendors (think lighting, sound systems, staging, etc.). Both events were co-hosted by two clients, had a CEO-level audience and occurred on the same day.
No pressure, right?
That’s when you want your most trusted partners working with you. As the team at Entrepreneur.com says:
“It can’t be overstated: Your events will be marred by even one bad vendor. Just as a bad apple ruins the lot, one bad vendor may leave a bad image in your client’s mind of the event as a whole.”
Once we’ve partnered with our clients on event planning and strategy, we make it happen with our ecosystem of professionals who are the best in their craft.
At that point it’s all about the execution, bringing together each other’s strengths and experience to create an exceptional customer experience.
Everyone benefits in the partner ecosystem
Event management spans everything from the creative concept, to registration and onsite logistics, to audio/visual production. Our creative vision for the event comes to life with the concerted efforts of trusted ecosystem partners.
The client benefits from the time and resources they save, doing just one purchase order with one vendor. Then we take it from there, handling contracting, managing and invoicing other vendors in our partner ecosystem.
Above all, the client benefits by getting the results they want for their event. Bryan Meyer, Lightspeed’s head of event operations and registration management, says:
“We trust our ecosystem colleagues within the industry, because we have long-standing relationships with them and they are experts in their respective fields. They trust us and like the work we produce. So when we pull in our A-team, they step up with their best work even on short notice. They consistently come through for us and our clients.”
Build and manage a partner ecosystem so you all survive and thrive
When you build and manage a partner ecosystem, consider the value exchange that takes place. Gartner Brand Content Manager Kasey Panetta says:
“…business ecosystems are dynamic networks of entities interacting with each other to create and exchange sustainable value for participants. The challenge is deciding how your organization will survive and thrive in its ecosystem.”
Managing an event means we first get agreement with the client on major elements, including concept, venue, layout, agenda, audience, types of content and budget. Then we work with our partners to meet all requirements, including the ability to be flexible if things change on the fly. The process is an evolution and doesn’t end until the event is over.
You put your reputation on the line when you select and enlist your partners. That’s why we choose people we know will deliver flawlessly, from our past experiences with clients and vendors.
We trust our partners to deliver their piece of the solution for the customer. Cisco’s senior director of partner sales acceleration, Kashif Abbasi, says:
“You find ecosystem partners…who have the specific knowhow required to solve your customer’s problem. …Partners help each other with opportunities, challenges, and solutions. Each provides a part of the answer the customer needs.”
Your partner ecosystem relationships will evolve
Working with an ecosystem partner is like a marriage of service providers. Eventually you might find you want to put a ring on it.
When there’s a partner in your ecosystem who you work with so well, so often, and for so long, it can make sense to merge. That’s what happened after Lightspeed and iReg, formerly an independent event registration service, worked together on event projects for more than a decade.
Last year Lightspeed and iReg formally merged. It was the next logical step forward to grow our respective businesses and offer our clients a full suite of services focused on their overall event experience.
Other partners in the ecosystem might move on in their careers to other vendor companies. When this happens, we keep our relationships with those individuals and build new ones at their new companies. Our ecosystem continually grows, which expands our creative ideas.
Bottom line: Continue to build your community of trusted experts, and you’ll find you deliver a customer experience with even more value.
If you want to benefit from productive partnerships that produce amazing experiences for your customers, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.