Partnerships are hard, no doubt about it. We talk to struggling partnerships professionals every day, and we know exactly how personally and emotionally challenging it is to find yourself in a partnerships role for the first time and suddenly realize you have no idea what you’re doing. 

If that got your heart rate up just reading it, take a second and breathe. We know exactly what you’re going through, because we went through the same wringer ourselves when we started our career in partnerships. Within 6 months of landing our first partnership roles, it felt like we should have skipped BD entirely, picked up three degrees in psychology, a few more in communications, and then taken a half dozen internships in the field. 

But hey: there we were heading up the partnerships department and work had to be done. 

Searching for Answers

In those early stages, there were so many times we almost lost our grip. The only thing that saved us was meeting the right industry professionals at the right time. With their mentorship, willingness to share knowledge, and personal support, we were able to right the ship and get our partnerships careers headed in the right direction.

But we also know we got lucky. You can’t count on crossing paths with a hero, and it’s important to become an active participant in your career development. You need to create your own luck by participating in events, building your knowledge base, and engaging with industry peers who will connect you with the experts and mentors who can help. 

Firneo’s community of partnership leaders and experts are changing the way professionals are engaging the profession, and we’re going to make some introductions to get you on the path to success.

Here are 3 partnership leaders you should be scoping out if you want to make a lasting impression:

1. Jay McBain, Chief Analyst at Canalys

If you’re in partnerships and you haven’t heard of Jay McBain, then this is where your journey begins. Jay is the most influential and visible thought leader in the global channel marketing space today. He’s an international lecturer, podcast guest, and consultant in technology and partnership spaces. His expertise is broad and diverse, and focuses on future trends, developments in channel technology, and major shifts in the channel ecosystem.

To give you a taste of what Jay is all about, here are a few of his top predictions for 2023:

  • Tech vendors will cut headcount by 9% (We say let them eat cake!)
  • Asia will enter a “decade of India” (3rd largest economy by 2030, baby.)
  • Corporate bankruptcies will reach record levels in 2023 (Kaboom!)
  • Networking will become a bigger business than servers for channel (We believe it.)

If you’re looking to follow Jay, point yourself in any direction in partnerships and just start walking. You’ll find him.

2. Justin Zimmerman

Have you seen the iconic formulation “integrations ≠ partnerships”? That’s Justin Zimmerman, a partnerships thought leader, sought-after podcast guest, lecturer, and partner program setup and strategy consultant for firms across the country. 

He’s also the definition of an empathetic mentor, putting in hundreds of hours (both as a consultant and as a partnerships humanitarian), to help young professionals entering the space combat the personal, practical, and emotional challenges of the industry and unlock the success and self confidence they deserve. In short, he’s a partnerships leader for partnership leaders.

Here’s a quote that sums his views on mentorship and leadership: “I don't have a job, I have a community... And when someone in our community needs help, that becomes my job.”

That’s basically our mantra at here at Firneo. We LOVE Justin. 

3. Allan Adler

Allan Adler is a Managing Partner at Digital Bridge Partners, a partnerships firm leading the industry in ecosystem development and management strategies. 

You’ve probably heard the expression “go-to-ecosystem”, and that’s because Allan coined it. He realized that the term go-to-market (GTM) was fundamentally insufficient for understanding how to generate and extract value from the modern partnership ecosystem paradigm that’s emerged in recent decades. Businesses needed to begin conceiving of GTM strategies in terms of engaging channel partners in their ecosystem in order to maximize value. 

His GoToEcosystem Framework is helping partnerships leaders across the globe launch, prove, scale, and leverage partner ecosystems to foster SaaS growth, differentiate themselves within their industry, and generate that all-important value and revenue.

It sounds technical (and it is), but if you’re in tech partnerships, then Allan’s the guru you need to connect with. His concepts—like developing a flywheel of community, partner, and customer—are going to be the powerhouse driving partnerships well  into the next decade. 

Connecting With Partnership Leaders at Firneo

These are just a few of the big names on the partnerships scene today, and there are many,  many others out there who are making important contributions to the partnerships industry. Isaac Moorehouse, Zoe Kelly, Daniela Garcia, Chris Lavoie, Barrett King, Ben Wright, and Aleksi Mattlar are all important players you can engage through the Firneo community of partnership leaders and experts, who are changing minds and winning hearts with partnerships pros all over the country. 

We’re accepting applications for our April 2023 cohort, but space is limited! Click here to apply today and ignite your career in partnerships.

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