5 Ways to Cultivate Meaningful Collaborations

from TED’s Head of Partnerships

TED sits at a very unique intersection–we’re a media organization and a non-profit committed to impact. Every person I hire to work directly with brands on strategy needs to be a mix of a consultant, salesperson, storyteller, and impact warrior with a deep passion for what TED stands for: the belief that ideas change people, and people change the world.

In my experience, having developed many large scale partnerships myself, and now leading the team charged with cultivating and sustaining relationships with our corporate partners, this is how it can be done meaningfully:


Become a true extensionof your partner.

As soon as you start the conversation, you work for them. You immerse yourself, learning and understanding their business inside and out. You become a true champion for their goals and develop the strategy that fits. Push back on policies or processes that inhibit your partnership. Be your partner’s biggest advocate–you’ll enhance valuable trust and confidence and, at the same time, improve your chances of them coming back again and again.


Persuade passionately,demonstrate rationally.

To convince anyone of anything, they need to feel your passion and energy come through. But that passion and storytelling ability must come with a demonstration of the rationale and strategic business case.


Diversity is essentialfor strong strategy.

The big sky thinkers and creatives, the practical business thinkers, the subject matter experts, those that challenge assumptions, and others that focus on the details: creative collisions happen here. And alternative perspectives help strengthen your strategy into a resilient path forward. I have always been particularly inspired by the 3M User Innovation Model that relates here.


Get the detailsright up front.

The big, bold overarching idea can often be the fun part, but the details and follow-through can be overlooked and underappreciated. The ROI lives or dies in the details. A strong overarching idea combined with meticulous detail is key to building lasting, year-over-year partnerships.


Always stay authentic —authenticity breeds trust.

I have found that being as honest as possible early on about what can or can’t be done, what is feasible and what makes sense, leads to more effective partnerships and greater trust between both parties. The partnership itself should feel authentic–sometimes saying, “no, this isn’t the best answer for you” is necessary for everyone and encourages both parties to re-focus on what might work better in the long run.

Bottom line:don’t let it be business as usual.

Keep innovating and challenging conventions. When you do this and apply all the rules above, you naturally become protective, passionate, and committed to ensuring success. Maintain this level of commitment to nurture, grow, and maximize the partnership and relationship.

Laura Beyer | Head of Partnerships, TED

Laura Beyer leads TED’s efforts to grow its revenue and reach as a global media platform through strategic partnerships. A proven, experienced marketer in the private sector for nearly two decades, she joined TED in 2015 and is most proud of the lasting strategic partnerships she’s built with the likes of BCG, Marriott Hotels, Target, and many, many more. An alumni of Providence College and Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, Laura’s an engaged member of Georgetown’s MBA Alumni Advisory Council. She’s a proud mom based in Arlington, VA, and would love to connect on LinkedIn

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