Did you join our Lunch and Learn on building brand partnerships? Bejay Mulenga, CEO of The Purposeful Project, Steve Dool, Head of Brand Partnerships at Depop, and Dave Wallace, founder of NMD+ discuss their top tips when engaging with other organisations and how to approach working together.

When reading this blog, you will learn about:

✨The battle between your head and your heart

✨How to combat imposter syndrome

✨Techniques when joining together two teams

✨Understanding the value of your opinion

✨How to make your goals clear and achievable to potential partners

Steve Dool is Head of Brand Partnerships at Depop, the place where circulatory fashion became fashionable.

Here are his tips on what he learned in his journey, you will find out:

📈 His biggest learning curve

📈 Where his instincts have got him

📈 Self-confidence

Making different working styles work together

Steve said that one of the biggest learning curves he has experienced was learning how two different companies who have extremely different ways of working can find a happy medium to work productively together.

He says that “devoting enough time to that portion” of getting the balance between teams is extremely important. Aside from strategy, content creation and marketing, dedicating time to figure out how very different companies work together is key for the relationship to continue.

It will make the process a lot easier to be collaborative if this is sorted at the start of your partnership.

Your most important values should match up with partners and what you both stand for.

Steve suggests that when actually looking to work with another company to use your shared values as a starting point. The more conversations you have with them about this, the more you can get to know how they work and if that would suit your company too.

Instinct is your natural guidance

“Intrinsic instincts have served me well and that’s something you can’t teach,” says Steve.

We all have some sort of gut feeling, whether it’s a knot in your stomach warning you that something isn’t right, or whether it’s a really positive moment where you get the warmth just by having a conversation with a potential partner.

Trust yourself and your natural reactions as they can be very telling of what the future holds. Of course, it may not always make commercial business sense, but trust your instinct as they are more often than not, correct.

Be confident in your conclusions

Every human being will experience self-doubt in their life, which is why we can all relate to having imposter syndrome at one point or another, but “knowing the value of your own point of view is important” says Steve.

He said that he wishes he recognised that a bit more when he was younger.

Just remember, your experience, opinion and point of view make your comments matter. If you can offer a different perspective or find a different way of doing something - do it! You may be the change that people need to accelerate a project, product, or discussion.

Believe in yourself, because you are full of powerful ideas.

Always note down discussions

When you’re busy working with many different businesses, it can be hard to keep track of everything that has been said. This can lead to miscommunication, confusion and delays in plans.

Steve advises to “send them a recap of the discussion so it's concrete”.

Having everything recorded is useful and by doing this you can refer back to these communications to ensure everything runs smoothly with everyone being informed.

It’s such a simple thing that would take under 10 minutes but could save you in hours or even days of mishaps.

Our next guest is Dave Wallace, Founder NMD+. With a service orientated background, he has some insights to share on partnerships too!

From reading Dave’s points, you will learn:

⚡Why reaching out will save you

⚡Knowing your gut

⚡Why new perspectives are the way forward

Don’t be afraid to bring new people in

“When you are in an agency or service you recognise that you can’t do everything and it's important that you recognise you need to reach out and know where you have gaps and who could help you with that,” Dave says.

It's okay to need support, and bringing in a new brain might help find better, alternative ways for operating your business.

It’s all about the chemistry

Like Steve, Dave agreed that “actually understanding that you have a valid point of view and instincts is vital.”

It’s critical that you do follow your instincts when you think about the chemistry of the partner.

He speaks about “the tangible feeling in your stomach” and to “listen to your gut”.

Being yourself and trusting your body is clearly the most natural way of knowing whether your partnership is going to succeed or fail.

Dave reminisced on a previous partnership that didn’t work out so well because he went “with his head” instead of his heart.

Diversity is what makes it work

Working with completely new people with different perspectives is what will help your brand grow, if everyone had exactly the same thinking, businesses would be boring. This is why brand partnerships can be so exciting!

“It’s not about employing carbon copies of yourself, it's about people who add value to you and have a different perspective. What you want is people who share those common values with you. If people don't understand that then at a heart level it can be a dangerous thing,” Dave says.

Different is good, different will make you stand out and different will help you thrive.

And finally, our very own and host Bejay Mulenga, CEO of The Purposeful Project had some points to add. Here are his top three.

No isn’t always negative

“Don’t be afraid to say no,” says Bejay. Sometimes you have to put long-term interests in front of short-term gain.

He comes back to a point that has been clear throughout the Lunch and Learn session - “if your gut doesn’t feel right”, don’t do it.


This one's for you

Bejay also gave us a short exercise that you can use with your own teams, partners, or just by yourself to see if the brands you want to work with aligning with you.

What you need to do:

  1. List which brands you would like to work with.

  2. For each brand, write down how they make you feel or what aspects you like about them.

  3. Outline the purpose and messages they put across

  4. Write down how they relate to your brand.

This will help you understand whether you could be a match to work together. It’s simple but so useful if you are unsure. Get the facts down and see if you could build a connection there based on common interests and values.

Connect with others

When you work as a team, connecting with people is one of the most important skills to have and who you know is just as vital as what you know yourself, which is why you should be networking.

Bejay suggests finding events where you can meet others and provide value to make connections. Be open, honest and approachable, with confidence in yourself and what you are working on right now.

A connection with one person could lead to a multitude of opportunities.

We hope these key takeaways from the session are helpful, you can watch the whole discussion back on our YouTube channel.