For tech firms seeking to expand their business, new partnerships and collaborations are an inevitable part of that growth path. Although these partnerships can take various forms, they have one essential thing in common and that’s people.

Whether you’re seeking to partner with another organisation to advance mutual interests, collaborate to produce new technology or to develop intellectual property, a successful deal doesn’t just depend on an effective legal contract but the relationships with all those involved in that process.

To manage these people effectively and achieve a successful tech collaboration, here’s our advice:

1. Don’t view your deal as a one-off transaction

A new partnership may be enshrined in a contract but it’s people who will negotiate, agree and then help deliver your project. Take time to build relationships with those people from the outset and continue to nurture them once a deal’s been signed.

2. Meet face to face at the outset

It may be easier and quicker to have meetings via conference call but face-to-face for the whole project team at the outset is more beneficial in the long term. That includes advisers.

There’s no substitute for meeting someone in the flesh and seeing and hearing them speak. This not only helps to give you a better understanding of someone’s personality but makes it harder for them to be rude to you.

3. Be patient

A deal is an end point that follows many interactions between people. Before getting a lawyer involved, spend time getting to know the other party and discussing your aims and potential opportunities. In our experience, expect this process to take anything from three months up to a year for a major collaboration.

4. Build trust

Trust plays a major role in successful collaborations. Inevitably you will encounter challenges throughout a partnership but if both parties trust each other, those will be much easier to overcome.

To help build that trust, avoid pre-contract sales puff and don’t promise things you can’t deliver. Be open and honest from the start about your business and the effectiveness of your technology. If you bend the truth, this will be obvious at the negotiating table leaving you with a red face and little bargaining power.

And if you or the other party agree to do something during the negotiations, include it in the contract to make it legally binding.

5. Prepare for a personality clash

A deal may look perfect on paper but can fall apart if there’s a personality clash. It could take just one person to turn a deal on its head if they don’t get on with the rest of the team. Also bear in mind that sometimes, the people you’re dealing with can change throughout the process and not always for the better.

If there’s a clash, then changing some of the people involved or their roles is the best solution. This may involve using your lawyers to play hard ball during the negotiation, leaving you to take on a more a conciliatory role with the other party.

Alternatively, choose people to negotiate that won’t be involved in implementing the relationship.

6. Anticipate future uncertainty

During the negotiation, flush out as many issues as possible, so that they are resolved before you get to the contract implementation stage. However, bear in mind that there will be unforeseen issues or changes in the future that could affect your relationship.

To prepare for these uncertainties, build in ways to deal with them into your contract. This will make it easier for people to implement the contract and resolve conflicts should they arise.

People and contracts go hand in hand, so understanding the personalities involved in your potential collaboration is essential. By taking the time to build relationships and most importantly, trust, your negotiations can be smoother and your future partnership more stable and successful.