When looking for partnerships, there are a few key things that internet service providers and government agencies can be aware of, said experts at the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Broadband Access Summit on June 22, 2022.
First, have the right people at the table. Think about the people who really have impact in the neighborhood, beyond the local leaders and officials.
Oftentimes, partnerships disregard the importance of local residents or groups, including religious groups, that have established trust with community members. Kristi Westbrock from the Consolidated Telephone Company, shared that valuable members would include “Ms. Susie who has lived in the neighborhood for 35 years, or the local barber shops that really have residents that hear and listen.”
Second, have agreed upon working principles. When partnerships collaborate with one another to develop working principles, they establish a framework of accountability, said Danny Peralta from the POINT. Having several working principles, “creates space for people to be accountable and work together.”
Put your goals in writing and determine how the separate agencies will work together, continued Peralta. Determine how you will share staff, resources, and tasks prior to starting the project.
“Listen such that you can hear what your partner’s goals and aspirations are,” added Corey Bryndal of Region 10, Colorado.
Third, come with an open mind with a determination to establish a high level of trust. All members of a partnership must come with an expectation to collaborate and innovate. “Be open to doing things differently than in the past,” advised Sarah Tennant of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Partnerships require that all members shed their ego at the door.
Fourth, offer something before you ask for something. “Anytime you offer a give, things happen and doors open,” said Bryndal. It is a good practice to show trust and a willingness to work with your partner to achieve your collective goals and support them in their personal goals.