After many years of being in the competitive corporate sales environment, it took a long time to accept the idea of freely collaborating with others. In fact, I was very doubtful it would work. However, knowing risk and trying new ideas is at the core of entrepreneurship, it was in my best interest to consider all the facts.
As an entrepreneur, I soon realized it becomes necessary to acknowledge those who excel in an area where we may lack knowledge and that we know we need. On occasion we also need to agree to ideas of others of which we may not be 100% certain. Trust and putting ego in the backseat are at the core of effective collaboration. When you are able to embrace trust and find valued others with whom to collaborate, you are then positioned to reach a far larger audience.
Here are some ideas to consider:
1. In-person and online events
Inform your trusted collaborative partners of all upcoming events you have planned. Provide enough lead-time for them to notify their appropriate audiences to help fill the room. Should you have fees involved and wish to pay those helping you, develop an affiliate program to track the registrants and appropriately compensate each partner. However, should each of you do similar work, then reciprocity of promotion is a preferred route.
Consider creating a product such as a manual where you may feature your business partners. Consider whether you collectively have a self-help theme, or if a Resource Section will be appropriate to share with your combined audience.
Will a community effort tie in with the theme of your businesses? This could be in the form of community service, a special project or development of a 501C. You may even consider an online effort encouraging increased discussion and forums offering help.
The idea of collaboration works beautifully online. Introductions are quick. When you are well connected on the social media sites, and with the click of a mouse, you are able to reach millions to help spread word of your work. Recognition of you and your business instantly becomes worldwide. With your team actively involved, your messages are seen multiple times from a number of people, and expressed in a variety of ways producing a very effective branding effort.
Given my experience in the corporate sales world, trust and collaboration only came when I found myself a fledgling entrepreneur. The ideas I heard sounded somewhat “out there” but there was a hint of possibility. Today many of us are good friends. We not only recommend one another every opportunity we have, but we also include one another in events, products and introductions to highly valued connections. Whereas there was once only a hint, today the possibilities soar.
When you make collaboration a habit, the possibilities and connections expand far more rapidly. You become seen everywhere and your personal brand may develop into that of “Leader.”
The added reward of working with partners in this manner is that you build lifetime friendships and you feel the glow of having helped others. When you feel this sense of achievement, the stress wanes, happiness increases, and you feel as if it were all a Smooth Sale!
Elinor Stutz, CEO of Smooth Sale, LLC, (800) 704-1499, was honored by Open View Labs with inclusion in their international list of “Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012.” Elinor authored the International Best-Selling book, “Nice Girls DO Get the Sale: Relationship Building That Gets Results”, Sourcebooks and the best selling career book, “HIRED! How to Use Sales Techniques to Sell Yourself On Interviews”, Career Press. She provides team sales training, private coaching and highly acclaimed inspirational keynotes for conferences. Elinor is available for consultation.