Most important is trust. Do you trust the person that you are considering working with? Do you trust that they have the authority to keep things tight on their end (how many times have you worked with a junior BD person who negotiates workshare, only to have contracts screw you later)? Can they correct issues when they arise? Do they have your back? Are you worried about bringing them into outside meetings? If you find yourself only providing half the story to them, or not cc’ing them directly with the client or prospect, something’s not right. Either you aren’t acting above board (and why not?) or you instinctively don’t trust them. Figure that out.
Different than trust in that you must ask yourself if the person is upfront with you. Can they really do everything that the SOW says? Or are they honest about their company’s shortfalls? Do they turn down opportunities that aren’t a good fit for them? Are they going to go rouge and directly contact the end client without communicating with you ahead of time?
This is the heart of practically any human issue. Can you effectively communicate? Your styles may be different, but do you understand what the other is saying completely? Do they go dark on you? Do you understand their language?
Unless you are a glutton for punishment (who are we kidding, you are a little if you are in GovCon!), part of what makes relationships work is the fact that you just plain like them. Why spend your time, resources or even mental energy on someone you don’t like? Life is too short to work with jerks. And as a business owner, you didn’t get into business to deal with people you don’t like. Just the opposite.
What’s interesting is that the above is applicable towards finding new friends, new romantic partners, new relationships. Why treat your business relationships any differently?
Cycle out the relationships that don’t work and focus your energy on expanding the ones that do.
If you’re looking to forge new, successful partnership this year, reach out! I’m happy to recommend a few of the greats! firstname.lastname@example.org