Finance & Capital mentor Guy Kawasaki responds to this question from an inc.com user:
In reality, every one of your employees should be creating business development opportunities. The trick is to make sure they are focusing on the relationships that are most important to growing your business. Often, young start-ups spin their wheels attempting to create unnecessary partnerships with other companies that are extraneous to the start-up's core business. Don't waste time doing this. These relationships drag down your limited resources.
Your management team should decide what strategic partnerships are absolutely critical to your company's success. Go after those and, for now, ignore the rest. Also, use your advisers, directors, employees, investors, friends -- anyone you can -- to help open doors to the most crucial potential partners. Using connections saves tremendous amounts of time and resources in establishing strategic partnerships. Remember to focus first on what is most critical to your start-up's success.
One good way to learn about successful business development strategies is to find the companies, big and small, that you think are doing a good job with their own business development relationships. Follow them in the press and find out what they are doing. In high tech, Cisco, Yahoo, Intel, RealNetworksand Inktomi are all companies that have done a great job of establishing themselves through great partnerships. These companies have used a combination of partnerships, investments, and acquisitions to make themselves into powerful high-tech players.