Let\u2019s do a little mental exercise. Picture in your mind the vision of a successful CEO, entrepreneur, or business owner. What do you see? What words would you use to describe him or her?If you\u2019re like most people, you\u2019ll probably think of some words like these:PowerfulToughSmartCalculatingRichInnovativeLeaderDonald Trump-ishFinancially savvyExperiencedDrivenFearlessA little crazyBut there\u2019s one other defining characteristic that propels people to high level success in just about any field. It\u2019s not strength, or smarts, or even the ability to solve problems.Successful people value relationships, and excel at building and maintaining them.We\u2019ve talked quite a bit on this blog about the importance of your relationship with your audience, from the folks who opt in to your email list for the very first time to the frequent customers who keep coming back for more products.Today, let\u2019s talk about another important relationship you should be developing. That\u2019s a relationship with your partners – the people and businesses who are vital in helping you reach new audiences.First, what makes someone a partner?Let\u2019s separate them into two categories:#1 Paid PartnersPartners who promote your product in exchange for money. These are typically called \u201cAffiliates.\u201dAffiliates can be bloggers who write a post about your product, driving interest and traffic by endorsing you to their audience. They can also be podcasters, websites, or other online entities who are giving your product a big thumbs up to their audience.Affiliates must disclose that they\u2019re being compensated by you, in accordance with the guidelines established by the FTC. (Familiarize yourself with those guidelines here.) They utilize tracking links and unique codes so that it\u2019s easy to track when their audience purchases one of your products. Affiliates receive a percentage of those sales, so the more they promote you \u2192 the more sales you get \u2192 the more money the affiliate makes.Relationship tip!This might be a money-for-services agreement, but don\u2019t make the mistake of treating it like \u201cjust business.\u201d Treat your affiliates like members of the team. Keeping them happy is important for your long-term success.#2 Reciprocal PartnersPartners who promote your product for something other than money.Reciprocal partners are usually bloggers whose editorial policy prohibits them from accepting compensation to endorse a product. They can also be \u201cGood Samaritans\u201d who promote you out of the goodness of their heart, without asking anything in return. In reality, they can be just about anyone who is willing to promote you without payment.Many reciprocal partners will ask you to guest blog. No, guest blogging isn\u2019t a chore! It\u2019s an opportunity to get your expertise in front of fresh eyes. (Remember to include a link to your website at the end of your post and drive traffic to your site.)In exchange, your partner gets the clout of having an expert appear on their blog. And, when you tell your readers to check out your guest post, you\u2019ll drive additional traffic to your partner\u2019s site. Tit for tat.Relationship tip!Since money doesn\u2019t enter into this agreement, it\u2019s even more important that you work to provide your reciprocal partners with value. Talk to them to find out what they really need from you. Offer to go above and beyond. Treat their audience and their platform with respect. Do all this, and they\u2019ll keep asking you back for more.How do you find a mutually beneficial partnership?There are – and we\u2019re not exaggerating – about a billion ways to find yourself some partners-for-life. Thanks to the power of the internet, you\u2019re only limited by your imagination. The key is to seek out people, bloggers and companies that will find value in you and your product.Think about your product as part of a vertical. What other people in your vertical will benefit from working with you? What types of people does it make sense for you to start a relationship with?Let\u2019s say you\u2019re a diamond miner. (Conflict-free, of course.)It wouldn\u2019t make sense to partner with other diamond miners, because they\u2019re your direct competition. And it wouldn\u2019t make sense to partner with a company that specializes in something completely different, like landscaping equipment. But you can seek out partnerships with shippers, gem distributors, jewel cutters and jewelry retail stores.When you\u2019re looking for partners, give each prospect the Ice Cream Test. Would working with this person be like selling ice cream in the Arctic tundra – completely ridiculous – or like selling ice cream at the beach – a perfect fit?That\u2019s not to say you shouldn\u2019t be creative in your hunt for the perfect partner! Be specific in what you\u2019re looking for, but not exclusive. You may be surprised at the communities that might be perfect for your product that you haven\u2019t thought of yet.One of our favorite examples of this is the infamous legend of \u201cDiapers and Beer.\u201d A retail chain noticed a correlation in sales of diapers and beer on Saturday nights, as young fathers sent out to pick up diapers decided to pick up a case of beer, too.The moral of the story? Put your primary focus on partners with relevant audiences, but don\u2019t be afraid to think outside the box.But where do you find these mythical partners? The good news is, they\u2019re human beings just like you and me, and they\u2019re hanging out in all the same places you and I hang out. Here\u2019s a magic little list that will get you on the right path.Top 9 places to find partners (in no particular order…)1. Amazon Best SellersLook for established experts who may be open to a partnership by perusing the Amazon Best Sellers list. Find the list that most closely relates to your area of expertise, and check out the top 10 (or top 100) authors…then Google their information, take a look at their blog or website to see if they might be a good match, and get in touch.2. Simple SearchGoogle is a no-brainer for finding affiliates. Try a variety of searches, starting with these:Affiliate marketingAffiliate marketing programsAffiliate partnership programsAffiliate bloggersThen add keywords relating to your niche. You\u2019ll find thousands, if not millions, of helpful results to explore.3. Google Blog SearchMost affiliates are bloggers, and it can be tricky to weed through general search results to find the right blogs. Fortunately, Google\u2019s dedicated Blog Search makes it easy for you to find top bloggers. Just pop in a few keywords related to your area of expertise, and you\u2019re on your way.4. ConferencesExperts who speak at conferences are often bloggers with affiliate programs. Go online, search for conferences in your field, then dive into the presenter and panelist lists to find possible partners.5. AssociationsThe same goes for trade associations, where you can find lists of people who are active in your field. Seek out relevant organizations and browse their websites to find their leadership, members and participants. Then, search for them online to see who\u2019s actively blogging and who promotes other people\u2019s products.6. Your NetworkDon\u2019t forget to canvass the people in your personal and professional network for leads and suggestions. You probably know at least a handful of bloggers, and they would probably love to work with you! Plus, having a personal relationship already established goes a long way in creating a strong partnership.7. Facebook GroupsFacebook is chock full of \u201cGroups\u201d of like-minded people discussing all sorts of topics. Use Facebook\u2019s smart search to find groups in your niche, and join a few. You\u2019ll begin to meet people who are passionate about the same things you are, and who may be interested in promoting on your behalf.8. Twitter ListsOnce you\u2019ve found a potential partner from any of the above suggestions, don\u2019t stop there. Chances are, that person knows lots of other people who may also be great partner material. To find out who\u2019s in their network, look at who they follow on Twitter!9. EditorialWhen you\u2019re reading articles about your niche, take note of the writer\u2019s name and their interview subjects. This is a perfect way to get a sense for who\u2019s actively writing and promoting in your community. Most writers have a byline that\u2019s linked to their website or email address, and many interview subjects also share that information. It\u2019s simple to track them down and say \u201chi.\u201dOkay, so you have a list of amazing potential partners that you\u2019ve pulled from every corner of the internet. Now what do you do? How do you start this relationship?Research them.Find out whatever you can about them through their blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. Do a little bit of social stalking – we won\u2019t tell anyone. There\u2019s a handy tool from LinkedIn that pulls up people\u2019s public social info as you\u2019re writing them an email, so you can reference all of their social channels in one easy spot.Get introduced.Nothing builds a foundation of trust quite like a personal referral. If you aren\u2019t sure if you know anyone in common, use LinkedIn\u2019s \u201cdegrees of separation\u201d tool to find out.Provide value.If you want someone to partner with you for no money, you absolutely have to show them why it will be worth it. Even if it\u2019s a paid affiliate relationship, you should still be prepared to show how a relationship with you will benefit them. Offering tiered products is a great way to show your partner that you have \u201csomething for everyone\u201d in their audience, no matter their budget or level of expertise.Make it about them.This is key in any relationship. You can\u2019t expect to email a partner with a pitch that\u2019s all about you. Draw them in, explain how you\u2019d like to help them. Be a human being, not a sales robot.Respect the list.Every partner weighs the pros and cons of giving you access to their audience and their email list. It\u2019s their baby! Their reputation is at stake when they endorse you. If you treat your partners with respect and provide them a quality experience, they\u2019ll trust you to do the same with their list.Don\u2019t be creepy.If they aren\u2019t interested, leave them alone. If they\u2019re on the fence, find out why instead of strong-arming them. If you\u2019ve found their address through your social stalking, don\u2019t show up at their house uninvited. Play it smart.Above all, be the person they will want to partner with. When you approach new partners, remember: you\u2019re the President and CEO of You, Incorporated. And like any leader, the quality of your relationships will determine the extent of your success.This kind of loyal, long-term commitment doesn\u2019t happen overnight. You have to actively reach out, confidently promote yourself, and stick with your partners for the long haul.It\u2019s the golden rule of affiliate marketing: treat partners the way you want to be treated.