Organizations thrive in an ecosystem of many, many other organizations who can all either co-exist, compete, or create meaningful synergies together. Many companies leverage these possible synergies by pursuing strategic partnerships to extend their network of supportive, well-aligned companies. 

In fact, partnerships are so important that 56% of meetings are held with or for partners. If you’re responsible for managing upcoming partner meetings, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve put together 12 tips on how to effectively navigate a partnership meeting to pull worthwhile results. 

What is a partner meeting?

A partner meeting is a gathering of the stakeholders involved in your partnership discussion. Depending on the type of organization or team that you work in, these stakeholders can vary greatly (more info below on who to invite to your meeting).

Unlike employee check-ins, brainstorms, or client meetings, this type of meeting is unique as it needs quick decision-making that is always mutually beneficial to the partnering organizations. Both participating teams are also external to each other, so they lack the same intel or internal business drivers. To mitigate this, extra focus needs to be placed on communication, accessibility, and often, flexibility. 

Make partner meetings worth showing up to

Host a well-run partner meeting by including a collaborative meeting agenda. Try using a tool like Fellow! 

12 tips for a productive partner meeting 

1Use a meeting agenda 

A meeting agenda organizes your structure, action items, and goals for your call. Using an agenda effectively maximizes the productivity of your meeting by ensuring that it has a clear purpose and defined results that you want to achieve. 

Better yet, a meeting agenda tool like Fellow can integrate directly with your meeting apps to keep your plans readily available during the call! 

Team Meeting Agenda Items

2Send the agenda out at least 24 hours before the meeting

Sharing the agenda with stakeholders ahead of the meeting ensures that all attendees are well informed of the plan for the meeting. Not only is sending the agenda ahead of time a sign of respect for the stakeholders’ time, but getting the agenda to stakeholders at least one day in advance also ensures there’s enough time for feedback or insight on additional items that need to be included. Sending the agenda in advance can help verify that you’ve touched on all important angles for the meeting and confirm that you and the partner(s) are mutually agreed on the goals for the call. 

3Define the purpose of the meeting 

The purpose of the meeting is a lot like the goals. Think: “Why are we doing this?”

Some common reasons to hold a partner meeting include a need for a:

  • General scoping call to determine if there’s strategic alignment
  • Negotiation meeting to sift through contracts and fine details of the agreement
  • Planning session for an upcoming project
  • Status reporting meeting for progress updates on an existing project
  • Closeout meeting to review how the previous project went

4Send the meeting invite well in advance 

Stakeholders are busy and need time to prepare for meetings. Also, the higher the seniority of the attendees of your meeting, the sooner you’ll need to schedule the call; although a partnerships manager who regularly books calls to scope out potential new partners may be available for a meeting in the next week, a C-suite executive may need at least two or three weeks notice to fit the meeting into their calendar. 

5Invite only those who need to be there

Partner meetings, much like many other meetings, are most effective with a smaller group. The more voices you have in a given call, the longer it can take to get through discussions. While not always a bad thing, in partnership calls these long discussions can put the meeting at risk of going over time, which can have a negative impact on the attending organizations. 

Only include key decision makers, informants, and managers who have direct involvement with the meeting at hand. Anyone else who may need to be informed can be sent the recording or meeting notes post-call. 

6Assign meeting roles 

Assigning meeting roles is a quick way to ensure that all those attending your meeting are there for a purpose. There are eight main meeting roles, but if your meeting has less than eight people, some individuals may take on multiple roles. These eight roles include:

  1. The meeting organizer
  2. The meeting host
  3. The note-taker (who is also responsible for meeting minutes)
  4. The time-keeper
  5. Decision-makers
  6. Voice of the customer(s)
  7. Optional attendees
  8. Informed participants and stakeholders

7Bring in a guest speaker

Bringing in an expert (whether internal or external to any partner organization) can be an engaging way to stimulate a new discussion within the partner meeting. 

An external guest speaker may be able to provide new insights that benefit both partnerships, like a short seminar on recent research findings related to the project. Alternatively, a guest speaker from within one partner organization may be able to present key results or shine some light onto how the partner organization functions. 

8Include time for questions 

A well-structured agenda should leave a few minutes for questions on each major topic. It’s important to consider this time for each topic, as stakeholders may want to discuss one topic completely before moving onto the next. 

If your question time goes unused, you can use it as bonus time for relationship building, take advantage of extra discussion time for more complex topics on the agenda, or even end the call a bit early. 

On the flip side, if you find that more time is needed than was allocated, ask your time-keeper or meeting host to step in and suggest that another meeting be scheduled to dive deeper into the topic at a later date. 

9Provide attendees with documents being discussed 

Partner meetings are notorious for shuffling a ton of documents back and forth. Between pricing, one-pagers, product documentation, contracts, NDAs, and more, it can be easy to lose track of the latest documents. Integrating your filing system (for example, Google Drive or Dropbox) to a meeting management tool like Fellow can make sharing these documents mid-meeting much more efficient. 

Engaged stakeholders will want to come to the meeting fully prepared. Sharing the documents ahead of time (if you can) or early in the meeting may be a good option to ensure that attendees can follow along. 

10Use a welcoming space 

Every partner meeting has multiple attending organizations but only one true host. This dynamic can lead the guest organization(s) to feel out of place. If this dynamic isn’t mitigated, it could detract from important relationship-building foundations that are necessary to help a partnership bloom. 

Adopting strategies to make the meeting more inviting is an important step to making sure guest organizations feel welcomed. If your meeting is in person, try using a round table to make all attendees feel equal to each other. If your meeting is online, turn your video on and have a fun or interesting background that highlights your personality or that of the company.

11Take meeting minutes

Meeting minutes are incredibly important here. Partner meetings discuss a ton of relevant business information, plans, goals, expectations, and boundaries. Recording these details through meeting minutes can allow both parties to look back on important information long after the call. Minutes also keep track of action items, so project teams are able to be held accountable in future meetings. 

12Send a meeting follow-up email 

Follow-up emails are a small but impactful way to build relationships with potential or current business partners. Sending this email after the call with a summary of the discussions, list of action items, and the plan for the next meeting will keep all parties informed and engaged in the discussions. This is also the best place to resend relevant documents that were talked about during the meeting so all recipients can easily download or share the documents as needed. 

Free partner meeting agenda templates 

Parting advice

Whether for sales, marketing, investor relations, product development, or some other initiative, partnerships can be a vital source of information, leads, or resources to help your business flourish. Organizing and delivering a quality partnership meeting will leave potential and future partners with a positive impression of your company and keep you top of mind as your businesses grow together.