Building Partnerships
Engaging the Business Community, Step 8: Building Business Relationships

Updated: 6.1.06

Every company can play a role in reaching families with important health care coverage information. However, not every company you work with will evolve into a long-term relationship. As you begin to engage companies in outreach activities, you will find that some companies are better suited to your project and more interested in making a long-term commitment to children's health care coverage. Approach business recruiting knowing that these efforts will yield different levels of commitment from companies and prioritize your relationship-building time accordingly.

Relationship-Building Tips

Keep in regular contact with your business partners. To build long-term business relationships, it is important to think of these relationships as year round. Make sure companies know who from your organization is managing the relationship. Stay informed about companies' marketing and community relations objectives and any new high-level appointments.

Build a deep company "bench." In today's business environment, things can change quickly. Your company contact could be promoted, move to another division or leave the company. It is important to build relationships with more than one person in a company to ensure that the work between you and the company will continue even if your primary contact changes. Keep in mind that you are establishing a relationship with the company, as well as the individual. Both relationships are important.

Collect and share results. Remember that companies are results oriented. Companies will be interested to hear how their outreach activities have helped to increase state hotline calls, application requests and the number of children enrolled in health care coverage programs. Tangible items, such as copies of news clips, are also of interest. When possible, quantify the results (e.g., the number of families attending an outreach event or the circulation of a newspaper that runs a print public service announcement).

Share family stories. Family stories can demonstrate the importance of business participation and the difference that companies can make in people's lives. For example, telling a drug store chain the story of a parent who learns about available health care coverage at an outreach event at a local store and subsequently enrolls their children is a powerful way to reinforce the importance of the company's participation.

Solicit feedback. In addition to participating in outreach efforts, the business community can serve as a valuable sounding board for new ideas. Soliciting feedback and ideas from your partners will help them feel more invested in working with your organization.

Further engage businesses in your organization's activities. Consider inviting companies to attend events or asking them to speak about their outreach activities at a meeting or conference.

Recognize your business partners year round. In addition to the recognition a company receives for its participation in a particular outreach activity, there are other ways to recognize business involvement year round.

Be sure to provide copies of these materials, speeches and news clips to your business partners. For additional ideas, see Step 9: Working with the Media.

Strengthen your relationships. An important part of building a business relationship is getting to know your company contact.