Top Ten Tips for Working with Other Groups

  1. Start small. Identify a relatively easy issue in which you collectively have an interest and on which you can agree.
  1. Develop clear, agreed-upon goals and objectives and work assignments, so everyone is clear on the scope and nature of the “partnership” and who is responsible for what; deadlines and specific assignments to particular individuals, or organizations, are helpful.
  1. Establish processes by which the group will operate, such as having co-chairs and subcommittees and set procedures for review, approval, and dissemination of documents to both internal and external parties.
  1. Recognize and acknowledge that on other issues you may have to agree to disagree.
  1. Scratch each others’ backs. Help out other organizations on their priorities, and they are likely to help out with yours.
  1. Think "outside the family." Broaden your view of the types of organizations and individuals who might have an interest or stake in your cause. Brainstorm with others – including elected officials with whom you are working – to develop a broad list of potential allies.
  1. Express thanks and appreciation and keep your partners up-to-date on your progress and activities. Also, if you enjoy a particular success or “win,” be sure to celebrate and include and acknowledge everyone who contributed to the effort.
  1. Share credit and responsibility, so people have a sense of ownership and feel there is a benefit to working collaboratively.
  1. Be strategic in terms of what you ask for from whom – recognize that while some organizations may be able to contribute at a high level, others may only be able to give a little to the effort; having a range of organizations and different levels of participation still advances the cause. Also, be respectful of people’s time and only meet in person when necessary; try to conduct most of your work by email and/or teleconference.
  1. Occasionally take the “temperature” of the group to ensure that the partnership is still viable and efficacious.