Stop for a second and ask yourself about your client relationships. Are the relationships you have the partnerships you truly want?

If you’re a VA who we’ve not trained, but you’ve heard talk about working in partnership with clients, that originated with us nearly 20 years ago. It’s a concept we’ve been teaching ever since, and one that forms a big part of the foundation of every AssistU VA.

What you might not know, though is that it’s not just some juicy language, but something with a bigger foundational piece,without which it’s meaningless. It’s this:

In order for it to be a genuine partnership, your clients must give to you, as well.

That giving can come in the form of referrals, in the form of giving you full and complete access to all the intellectual capital and resources they have at their disposal, in showing up and caring about how your business is doing, in making great suggestions for ways you might move your business forward (a conversation they should only have by invitation, btw!), in keeping you and your business top-of-mind all the time, and of being whatever help they can be.

For there to be a partnership between you and your client, there's a mutuality of support that can't be overlooked and that goes well beyond an exchange of payment for services..

Sounds a lot like some of what you give to them, yes? Well, it needs to come back to you, too! You deserve it, and it makes sense, doesn’t it, that if you’re going to put time, energy, commitment, and focus behind someone else’s success, you deserve to have the same done for you.

Without this mutuality, what you have isn’t a partnership in any real sense. Instead, you have a transactional relationship where you work, and the client pays. It’s no different, really, than the relationships people have with other vendors they use regularly, like the dry cleaner, or massage therapist. These relationships happen as needed. And although the same vendor is usually chosen for a single type of work (people go to the same dry cleaner, and the same massage therapist, for example), the “transaction” is around exchanging work for money.

The client doesn’t give anything else to the vendor. The client doesn’t help the vendor in any real way (other than by being a customer).

If that’s really what you have in your relationships with your clients, and it works for you, that’s ok—and don’t kid yourself that you’re working in partnership. You’re simply not.

Do you really want transactional relationships, or partnerships, with your clients? If it’s the latter, transform them by requiring your clients to give, as well as get.