How I build and manage partnerships and communities – Hollie Haggans of DigitalOceanFeatured

What skills do you need to build and manage partnerships and communities?“At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”― Maya AngelouI remember sitting in my mother's veterinary clinic watching her write handwritten “thank you” notes to all of the patients she’d seen. Once, when I was eight, I asked her why she took it upon herself to do something that was not part of her job scope. Her response was simple: building relationships requires small gestures; the seemingly insignificant matters. This lesson is one of many I’ve carried over into how I cultivate community and partnerships within the tech ecosystem.I am privileged that I get to work with global communities and partners. By day with DigitalOcean and at night with NYC Geekettes. I’ve engaged with many developers, marketers, entrepreneurs, and more at various stages of their tech lifecycle. I often think back to a time I had a boss that coached me to solidify partnerships,get contracts signed, and close deals, regardless of the long term outcome. While I always exceeded my targets, I was failing at building a thoughtful or pure community.. The ‘churn and burn’ mentality that he rewarded was evident in the relationships that were built. I knew in my gut, this was not the partnerships I wanted to foster and promote. Knowing that I wanted to be a part of and create communities whose ethics were aligned with my mother’s advice, I left that job. Over the years, I’ve crafted my own version of the “thank you” notes. Here are my 5 simple skills for how I manage and cultivate partnerships and how I form valuable relationships and communities. 1. Know the value you bring to the table - Ask yourself, what do I have access to help them achieve their goals. Get your tool kit together and share your tools.2. Talk to people often and be kind - We often get caught up in execution mode, move fast and break things. We forget to say please and thank you.3. Do the right thing - as Spike would say. Not every action needs to be tied to a direct goal or KPI. Trust your gut and remember to think about the best outcome for group or community. 4. Quality over quantity - Relationships are integral to this. I have found that creating an experience that prioritizes lasting power over number of superficial engagements tends to generate greater results. 6. Celebrate the community - We love to be appreciated, your people want to be seen and heard. Tell member stories, say their names, lift their voices.I know this is a very simplified checklist, but I promise that its simplicity will win. I try to apply these basic rules to every encounter that I have in my professional spaces. In thinking about what my mom instilled in me as a child and thinking back on my biggest wins, I recognize that, more often than not, it is all about how people, how I felt in those moments. Therefore, create special moments, that’s what they’ll remember. How you make them feel, what value you give them, and how you can replicate that feeling are key for cultivating partnerships and community building. Hollie is a relationship builder, storyteller, podcaster, and startup advocate living in NYC. Currently at DigitalOcean, helping startups and partners tell their story, locate resources, and connect entrepreneurs to help them succeed and grow. Prior to that, Hollie ran sales and support at beauty-tech startup, Lifebooker, a dual-sided marketplace for all things beauty. Hollie also oversees and manages programming for NYC Geekettes, advocating to increase the ratio of women working in tech. Hollie’s passions that are also part of her work include love of travel, music, and sipping on cold brew coffee.
Hi Hollie! Loved reading this. I'm a big believer in thank you notes - old school style, hand-written. But in general, my work is very word of mouth and my relationships I see as two-way...definitely not quantity over quality. 1 great relationship can cancel out 3 iffy ones. I work on strategic partnerships and collaborations for artists (with hotels, brands, etc.) so I very much related to your ideas and work. Thanks for posting! Anne
100%...So hard to quantify often and often times not celebrated. But worth it when its genuine and authentic connections, unbeatable feeling.
Thank you for sharing these, Hollie! Many takeaways for us as we continue to build this community!
Thank you! Thank you for working on this community. So thrilled to be a part of it. :)
We're so thrilled to have you!
This is awesome. We should have more posts like this.
Thanks for the feedback! We will try to get more posts like this.
Hey Hollie! Thanks for sharing your experience with the Elpha community. It's really refreshing to see your 5 skills for managing and cultivating partnerships. I often feel that points like these are either overlooked or sometimes disingenuous, unfortunately. However, the simplicity of these 5 points, in combination with one another are powerful in themselves. Truly great to see the visceral component in managing and cultivating partnerships, so thank you for sharing this!
You are so right, when you think about these skills being overlooked/feeling disingenuous. Hopefully, as we continue to build communities and spaces like Elpha, we all have a voice to share the things that have worked on our unique paths. I'm excited to hearing more from this community!
I am low-key obsessed with DigitalOcean UX and community. I love the thoughtfulness and empathy with which they seem to design not only the product but also interactions with the users (through articles, resources, and microcopy). Thank you for sharing this and giving an insight into how y'all make the magic happen :)
Thanks Amruta! The respective teams work really hard to ensure they are delivering a valuable experience for each piece of content that they produce. :)
Love seeing you (and your work) in the spotlight, Hollie! Sending goodness your way!
Lyndsey! :) Thank you and all the goodness back at you, lady!
Totally using this in a community building training! Thanks for sharing.