Whether in work or our personal relationships, joining forces helps us to accomplish so much. Connections are key, and partnerships are essential components on the path to growth. They take time and work. Here are three rules to help you along the way when making a good agency match; believe it or not, it’s a lot like dating:

Pick the right partner

On average, people dedicate 90 minutes daily to dating apps; scanning photos and interests, then deciding whether to swipe left or right. This research and screening in advance helps to spare that awkward in-person meeting that is clearly on the path to nowhere.

In business, putting forth the time and energy to finding the right match is no different. Start by having an idea of goals and objectives such as brand awareness or generating leads. Seek out an agency that understands your vision and can bring to the table strategy and proven results. Make sure your cultures mesh.

Also, have a budget in mind. It’s important to understand how an agency bills. Some might have a flat hourly rate. Others might have rates that are set based on the experience of team members. Have a clear understanding from the get-go.

Define the relationship

Nothing quite compares to the rush of excitement when you’ve made an online match. You’ve expressed interest in someone and the feeling is mutual. Messages are exchanged, you meet in-person and it’s clear there is something there. A few dates in, you have “the talk,” and decide to make the relationship exclusive; deleting dating apps from your phones and making things official. Facebook official, that is.

Establishing clear expectations in business partnerships is just as important, so neither party feels let down or cheated down the road. Work together to outline what is expected of both parties. Determine roles such as the main contact at your company and the primary agency contact.

Remember that budget you had in mind? Work with your agency to build the framework.

Communicate with your agency partner the goals and objectives you have in mind. From there, your agency can work with you to develop a strategic plan that incorporates your goals and objectives, along with key audiences, strategies and tactics.

Work with your agency to develop a reporting system, keeping in mind how often you would like to be updated.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

After the honeymoon phase is over, the novelty and excitement of a new dating relationship can start to wear off quickly. Chemistry and work help to keep it going.

In both life and in business, some of the best relationships take time, understanding and open communication.

In the preliminary weeks and months with your agency, schedule regular meetings and updates to touch base, answer any questions and provide insights that are helpful along the way. Check on the progress of your plan to ensure that your goals and objectives are being met.

Strategic partnerships are more than just a contract. They are built on transparency, trust and working together. A good connection can be hard to find but invest the time and work and the reward will be great.

Pro-tip – while we touched on some of them in this blog post, check out our C-Suite Guide to Selecting an Agency and 8 Tips for On-Boarding an Agency for additional insights.