Seeking a tie up partner

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Your business idea is solid. You've done the necessary market researchtested the concept, and built out your product or service. The only thing you need is a big brand to notice you, realize the brilliance of your startupand on the dotted line as a partner. It can seem like an impossible thing. Just how do you get a household name to talk to you when you're--so far--a nobody? The company recently partnered with Virgin America and Gogo Inflight Internet to offer the first in-flight social network people can access while in the air from a mobile device.

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With the deal comes promotion any developer would envy. Now, whenever you buy a seat or visit Gogo's paywall on a Virgin America flight you'll be encouraged to try Here on Biz to see if any other professionals are on your flight, on any Virgin America Flight, or located at your destination.

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Forget about knocking on a big brand's door and pitching a partnership without first having spent a lot of time--months in the case of Here on Biz--building relationships with people inside the company who will champion your idea with decision makers. In Smoot's case, he says he and his partner knew from the minute they dreamed up Here on Biz one night in a bar that they wanted Virgin America as a partner because airplanes are full of business people who could benefit from the kind of professional social network they had in mind.

Smoot used LinkedIn heavily, reaching out to key people within Virgin America to genuinely compliment them on things he believed the company was nailing. He suggests particularly paying attention to the LinkedIn feature that shows you other people who have viewed a profile. I'm very intentional about who I select to talk to and sometimes if I even identify them on LinkedIn I won't even actually contact them through LinkedIn; I'll find [a different medium] to engage with them," he says.

How To Build Strategic Partnerships and Grow Your Business: for Entrepreneurs and Freelancers

In other words, he might find the right person on LinkedIn but then engage with her on Twitter, reach out via or find out what conference he will be attending and make an introduction there. Forget about anyone in middle management, Smoot says.

A lot of the time these folks are too focused on getting Junior through college and intent on keeping their jobs. Instead, befriend people either really low on the totem pole, or executives who actually have decision-making power. I'm really intrigued with these specific pieces,'" he says.

He also suggests asking someone at the big brand to attend an interesting meeting. Smoot had success doing this by inviting Seeking a tie up partner of Virgin America's employees to a TED event he was working on. Once you actually manage an in-person introduction, do not use it as an opportunity to suggest a partnership with your company.

Authenticity is a key component of successful relationship building. The conversations you have should be centered around your genuine interest in the big brand's initiatives and goals. You're not going to get anything out of it and they're going to tell you you're fake and there's an ulterior motive. If you truly can say that your goal for this conversation is to learn from them, oftentimes people love to teach," he says.

Smoot knew Here on Biz and Virgin America could help each other but he still took the time to fully research the airline's needs and figure out how to fill them. They think 'Oh, everyone needs this. Once the big brand is actually considering working with you it can help to solidify the relationship by doing work for the company that furthers its goals. Unless your offering is amazingly tight and getting tons of traction on its own, the likelihood of a big brand approaching you is pretty much nonexistent. That means the onus is on you to make the behemoth fall in love with you.

The 5 Signs Your Relationship Is Over

You may be the brains behind your great idea but what if you're lacking the social skills to do all this relationship building? Hire someone who can, Smoot suggests. Or better yet, convince persuasive and prominent people outside your organization to do it for you. When Smoot finally raised the idea of a partnership with a newfound buddy within Virgin America the person wasn't very enthusiastic so he backed off.

Later, however, the company invited him to attend an inaugural flight from Los Angeles to San Jose, along with representatives from Twitter and other large tech companies. They connect business travelers. Wouldn't it be cool if we could do this in the air? You may be running on a shoestring budget and worried that your company might not be alive in a month, but that's probably not the case with the big brand you want as a partner. And while you may be tempted to push hard to get a deal done, Smoot says it's better to take a tactful temperature check with the personyou're closest to inside the company.

I ed them once and then nothing.

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So then I followed up again and said 'Hey, should I just take this as you guys are not interested? I'm just curious, not trying to be rude. Let's set up a time, here's the day that works for us,'" he says. Top Stories.

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Top Videos. Getty Images. Another idea: find others who have successfully partnered with the big brand you're going after. Smoot says he's a big fan of in-person meetings and reaching out on to make it happen. Sponsored Business Content.

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How to partner with a larger company when you’re a startup