Chances are there are many people involved in your client’s strategy for success. You might rely on other businesses like Advertising, PR or Marcom firms for referrals or be the one referring to another service provider and that is one type of reciprocal relationship that comes with its own perks; but let’s say you come on board and you are strangers with the firm.

Maybe a previous SEO provider is exiting and you are now at the helm. How do you calm the waters for a smooth trip? We’ve got some thoughts on the matter.

Get to know them – don’t let only business meetings be the sum of your professional existence with a new service provider. Grab lunch, coffee or drinks with them to talk about their lines of business, something other than this one client you share together. One-on-one in-person interactions are the new unicorn encounters and are generally appreciated and enjoyed.

Respect your boundaries – don’t be a jerk and assume that this new relationship will appreciate you taking the lead. Let the existing firm lead or have this discussion outright. Who will project manage? Will you work together? Work in silos and talk only when necessary? Never be seen nor heard? The beginning is the best time to work this out if you want relationships with longevity in mind.

Be humble – sure you’re the best, but do you really have to act like you know it? Confidence is one thing, arrogance is another. If you have to run around telling people how great you are, chances are you aren’t actually great. Hone your craft, provide great service, offer great council and be a great partner. Put down the megaphone and check yourself. A good partner is one that works hard and provides value, not noise.


Don’t poach business – resist the urge to want to change the other firm. Your role as an advisor is to advise on what your speciality is, don’t dip a toe into the other service line unless you think something harmful is happening to your mutual client and in that case, do it privately and with transparency in mind.

Network & refer – you can have more than one PR friend or more than one Ad friend, so if you want to get a variety of business, refer to a variety of businesses. The key thought is TO ACTUALLY refer! No one likes a provider that only takes referrals. You need to give it out as well. Providing qualified leads is what makes the business world go round and round.

Give thanks – if your MO is to thank your referral providers and/or clients one time a year, say during the holidays, then you are doing it all wrong. Gratitude is a dish best served warm and often. A thank you note or a “hey hope all is well” note will keep the relationship top of mind and primed for a referral. Nothing says, sorry I didn’t keep in touch like some crappy mass send of gift boxes at the holiday season that are not special nor amazing.

Lather, rinse, repeat