In this blog I talk about COLLABORATION! - SO vital to networking success
Collaboration really can grow your business very quickly if done right! – NO MATTER WHAT LEVEL OR BUSINESS YOU HAVE!
In this article, I am going to discuss the art of collaboration, and how you could even work with other businesses within the same profession, where most would see competition!
I will even discuss my own experience with others working in collaboration.
Like any other activity you practice for your business, it needs careful attention, measurement, and planning. Picking the right collaboration can really, really boost your business, get it wrong and it can not only be a waste of your efforts but also can damage your image and do damage.
As we have now gone back to some kind of normality, you will see the word collaboration used a lot. Many “shared or open offices” use the word a lot.
Collaboration isn’t just about getting business or making friends. Collaboration includes sharing skillsets and knowledge! This is one of the principles I used when I talk about successful networking. If you have ever attended one of my workshops, you would have heard me say “One hand washes the other”.
So, what about an example?
Very simple! – Very recently, I spotted a great potential for 2 people to collaborate. Thinking outside the box and even looking at a financial perspective, I introduced a card payment services company to a web designer.
Why? – Firstly, it’s not something a web designer or payment merchant services would think of, but it made perfect sense! – A web designer has the trust of their clients. If the web designer is building a site for a client, who wishes to take card payments, in most cases the web designer will not be able to provide those services and would default to “what’s normal”, “convenient” or the go-to online payment provider. That’s what they have always done right?
Now, this may not be the cheapest option, but easy for the web designer. But, how about the Web designer can get the same or better service and earn an extra income while saving their clients a heap of cash….. In return, the payment merchant service agent now knows someone who designs websites.
Why is this good? – Most merchant services are the first point of call when someone is seriously setting up a business. It would be a great opportunity to make an introduction!
If they continue the relationship and continue to recommend each other, voila.. It's more than passing a referral, it's COLLABORATION!
How Do you Spot or Recruit someone to collaborate with?
If we continue the theme (web designer and merchant services), what if I then said that they work together to bring others into their collaboration partnership?
Let’s say the web designer now introduces someone who is getting a website built, gets their card machine sorted, who else could they bring in? – What about someone who suppliers the cheapest commercial energy? What about someone who does Telecoms? What about a printer? – The list goes on!
My point here is to look at the people who are in the supply chain who are working with your ideal clients. Form a relationship, and see how you can ALL offer the same client a brilliant service.
It doesn’t just stop there! - Listening to others in your profession!
What if I said you could collaborate with others in the SAME profession?
Everyone gets really busy from time to time, and in some cases, the business can’t handle all of the work. Bookkeepers, VA, and Pa’s are good examples. Rather than turn the work down (I would never suggest this BTW), they will look for someone whom they could “sub” the work out to.
When you hear someone say they are too busy, or can’t handle all of the work, not looking for any more business, simply offer your help!
Provided you have given out the right impression, and acted professionally, you may become the go-to person when this happens! – This is coloration at its best…..
Things to take into consideration when collaborating with someone involves:
- Trust – Do you trust this person to keep to the arrangement?
- Does this mean that they will work with you and NOT recommend someone else or an alternative supplier?
- Do they sync with your beliefs, business principles, and morals?
- Is it going to be a mutually beneficial relationship or one-sided?
- Would they share YOUR success with your competitors?
- Can they be transparent?
- Business Position – Where are they in their business?
- Do they operate at the same level as you?
- Do they have the same level of authority as you in their profession?
- Are they working with the same kind of clients who also work at the same level as you – This is all about making sure you get the right introductions
- Can they speak to YOUR clients in the same way as you do?
- Are they as motivated as you are
- Motivation – Will they actively look out for introductions for you?
- Will the follow-up on introductions?
- Would they be too busy to really get involved?
- Would they be comfortable with being accountable for the relationship?
- Will they give you honest feedback?
Finally…Very obvious! – Getting personal - Do you like them, and have the same humor or interests as you? After all, you are going to be spending some time with them.
What to do when you find someone
Test them first!
Relationships are vital to both parties, but before you go out all guns blazing, give a little test and recommend the other person to your BEST and most TRUSTED client.
Without the other collaborator knowing, get feedback from the client. It may be slight-handed, but, your reputation could be on the line. If you have a good relationship with the client, you will soon know if they are an ideal fit for you to collaborate with.
Once you have the trust – Train them to introduce you!
There is nothing worse than to turn up and meet someone whom you have been recommended to, only to find out they have no idea what you do!
You need to take some time with each other and really get to know what to say and how to introduce each other. This is where it is so vital to be clear about whom you are looking to work with and keep it simple on how and what you do!
Time invested here will save a lot of time, and give you better results from your referrals.
Take your time. This like anything else needs, you to make a sound judgment. If you are going to work with each other, make sure the relationship comes first!
You have spent ages building your brand, what you stand for, and more importantly, getting the clients in the first place.
If someone isn't trustworthy, doesn’t follow up in introductions, or has a poor reputation this can damage you! You are also affected by the way they do business and manage your client.
I recently tried a collaboration introduction between two of my trusted connections, but it didn’t work and BOTH parties blamed me for making the introduction. Lesson learned there!
More than Money?
Yep, collaboration is about more than the money!
When you collaborate with others and do it right then you can bounce ideas, share experiences and even share what you each know. This just strengthens the relationship, and almost forms a partnership.
There is nothing better than someone stopping you from making the same mistakes the other party has done, but even better advice on how to do better is invaluable!
Let’s add this into the mix – Say your client has an issue and comes to you!
What if you said, I can’t help you, but I know someone who can, and as we have a great relationship, I’ll make sure he gives you the best advice and suggestions. You actually strengthen the relationship with your client.
Collaboration done right is a WIN, WIN for you, others involved and more importantly, your clients get a trusted service, which results in referrals, great feedback, and testimonials….
So, take the next 3 minutes and think of your customers and who else is supplying them, and pick up the phone and make the call ASAP!
If you are struggling with whom you can collaborate or get better results from your collaborative relationships, request a call back with me