We are a small startup located in Sweden, but our product, soon to be released is of course just as interesting in america as in Sweden. We will be looking for partnering with consulting firms delivering custom made applications to businesses, ISVs, and IT-departments in the SME segment (initially). Do you have any tips for a non american corporation like ours on how to get in contact with our first partner in the States? We have good references for our product.
Easy: stop by for a week in Silicon Valley and meet and network every day and every evening. That will increase your chance of meeting someone who can help you, or introduce you to someone who will.
For maximum success, schedule your visit around a key event related to your space.
The first question any potential partner will ask is how many customers do you have? If your product is not yet released (or only just released) you will have difficulty generating interest. You might want to get a few customer case studies and have some success stories to tell.
You could find conferences or trade shows where your prospective customers or partners will go. Exhibiting will cost a chunk of money, so if you are on a budget you could go as an attendee with a lot of business cards in your pocket and laptop to run demos.
Another alternative is to go to European conferences like CEBIT where you will find many US companies looking for opportunities.