We engage partners at many levels, professionally and personally. Sometimes a partnership brings out the best qualities each individual has to offer, sometimes the worst. A typical strategic alliance tends to make us more knowledgeable and broaden our reach and influence. As a buyer of contingent labor you have goals and initiatives that demand partnerships that are integral to your business. These partnerships may be with staffing and solutions providers and others, but the key is how you utilize their expertise. Does the power of your partnership make you more knowledgeable, broaden your reach, influence and ultimately help you attain your professional and personal goals?
MSPs. An MSP’s task is to provide you with overall supplier management expertise and manage the nuts and bolts that keep your contingent workforce running efficiently at top speed. That’s the job, but good or great partners do more. They look ahead and advise you of bumps in the road when it comes to talent availability, upcoming legislation, changes in engagement practices, geographical and industry trends. They provide you with recommendations based on your company’s needs. Finally, their relationships with staffing suppliers give them increased knowledge and insight into the talent that you engage on a day to day basis. It’s all part of being a good partner, prviding knowledge that enables you to broaden your reach and influence to help your company meet business objectives.
Staffing providers. Staffing firm partners, big and small, should be viewed from a partnership perspective. They have a unique point of view from a recruiting standpoint; they are the talent providers. Are the staffing firms that supply your talent engaged as subject-matter experts by your MSP? Are they brought into the conversation when an order is hard to fill or has high turnover? Is there an open conduit for them to make suggestions and provide alerts when something new, different or just plain interesting hits the marketplace from a recruiter’s standpoint? Alternatively, make sure you and your MSP use the power of partnership to give your staffing firms more information so they can provide the right talent to get the job done.
Knowledge centers. Finally, look at other conduits to expand your knowledge and your reach. Great research is available from a variety of resources. Staffing Industry Analysts has a wide variety of topics pages  that cover the global ecosystem of contingent work. Our industry has associations devoted to temporary staffing, like the American Staffing Association  and Techserve Alliance  (IT and engineering temporary staffing) that provide information, codes of conduct and lobby on behalf of temporary staffing firms and their workers here in the US. Elsewhere, organizations like CIETT  (global), APSCO  (UK), StaffingAmericaLatina  (LATAM), HHMC  (APAC), among others, provide a variety of international expertise for the private employment sector to their membership.
Use partnerships to expand your knowledge, broaden your reach and ultimately attain your professional and personal goals. Pick your partners carefully and nurture the relationship based on what your needs (and theirs) are.