Doing business in 2012 and beyond is all about collaboration. The whole idea of competition is so yesterday… so limiting and so based in fear. The idea of collaboration is about building upon your own gifts by bringing others into the spotlight with you. It is about sharing, giving and being open to seeing others succeed along side you. It is about surrounding yourself with people who lift you up, invite you to grow, compliment your values and encourage you to be the best you can be.
When we collaborate, we give ourselves a chance to expand and become more.
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of meeting a group of women that I have been collaborating with for several years, 411Voices. You may have seen the hashtag #411Voices on some of my tweets, on my Twitter bio or the logo on the sidebar of my blog and wondered what it is. Feel free to click the link and see some of the amazing women who are part of this group. These women all have amazing stories and they are fantastic collaborators.
This week, we met with a wonderful communications team from the National Dairy Council and learned all about dairy. We spent 2 days digesting and sharing information and giving feedback that will help both 411Voices and the Dairy team to better serve the public. It was personal and professional, which made for an excellent experience for all and a great model for collaboration. Stay tuned for more on this…
The truth is that not everyone is good at collaborating. In fact, there are some people and businesses that can damage your brand if you collaborate with them. So, let’s take a look at the basics of healthy collaboration.
If you are a solopreneur, branding your business around your core values is essential to attracting potential collaborators who compliment your values. When presented with an opportunity to work with another business owner or if you are looking for brands to partner with, doing a core values assessment along with a background check is critical.
Google the brand or business owner and make sure there are no big red flags or negative press swirling around that could affect your image should you decide to move forward with a joint effort. Once you have investigated their reputation, you will want to check out the social media practices of the brand and make sure that their messaging is positive, engaging and collaborative. If you find that they only promote their own products and services, there aren’t a lot of RTs or they don’t engage with their audience, this may be an indication that they may not be a good match for working with and helping to promote your brand.
Healthy collaboration will feel seamless and easy. The way to encourage this is to be very clear about what your goals are both within your business and with the collaborative effort. Know what you want to accomplish with your work together and be specific about what you bring to the table and what is expected of all parties. Be organized, on time and upbeat in all correspondence and remember that each step you take should be designed to move everyone forward.
If you have set your business up with a well thought out business plan and clear goals and objectives, you are ahead of the game. No matter how long you have been in business, if you have a strategic action plan, an audience and a mission, the time to collaborate is NOW.
You will know that you are ready to collaborate when you have a significant level of traffic to your website and social media profiles, if you are getting a lot of attention from the media and when your audience is engaging in active and consistent conversation with you.
If you have created a business plan that is not just about revenue, but also includes a road map to your dream lifestyle, your why should be front and center. The reason that you are doing your life work is the same reason that should drive you to collaborate with others. If you are presented with an opportunity that does not match up with your core values, your goals and most importantly your why… it is most likely a distraction and may not turn out to be a healthy collaboration. Always do a gut check to make sure the person, team and brand you will be collaborating with match your why.
Each collaborative effort will begin with a conversation about mutual goals. Whether the conversation takes place in your head (as an idea) or with another person, the plan for the collaboration will be a dance. Start by brainstorming options and scenarios and remember to play to everyone’s strengths. For example, if you want to collaborate with someone who is a blogger only and your goal involves video, you may want to either only target those with strong video experience or shift your focus to incorporate the written format.
Excellent collaboration involves mutual gain. Strive to make the process of collaboration clear, simple and enjoyable in every instance. Relax and don’t stress. Enjoy the process and know that with each collaboration, you will learn, grow and step into a new level of success.
Thoughts or questions? Leave them in the comments and have a great day!