Collaboration is a business strategy. Are you using it? For many new entrepreneurs, collaboration is counterintuitive; new business owners miss the value of collaboration because they are so focussed on competitiveness.
Five fundamental things about collaboration I wish I could teach all entrepreneurs:
- All successful marketers collaborate with other marketers; many could be called serial collaborators!
- There are many, many ways to collaborate and many benefits.
- All that said, you will not be successful unless you lay the proper foundation. Get my special report: Preparation for Collaboration.
- It all starts with connecting with others. It is imperative for marketers to meet others – network. Seek out online communities that promote conversation as one starting place for networking. Select and attend live marketing events with networking as a goal.
- As with all things in business, choose carefully and persevere. If you have a bad experience partnering with someone, learn from it. But continue to seek out and build relationships that can make a difference.
Collaboration means working together to realize shared goals.
Experts differentiate between cooperative and collaborative relationships, with the latter being a deeper, more interactive and collective effort to reach mutual objectives. That’s good to know but this site takes a broad view without fussing over that particular distinction. So just to highlight the definition and parameters used here:
- working – It takes effort. It takes time. As with many work activities, there are tasks with procedures (tactics). In situations where the work or resource burden is not equally shouldered, the collaboration typically stumbles.
- together – It takes two or more people. Each contributes work and/or resources. Some collaborative work processes are better than others.
- shared goals – The same result has the same or similar benefit for all involved. When three people work together to create a single info video which each then uses to build their own list, all three receive the same benefit. In many mastermind groups, all members (over time) leave with increased inspiration, skills, or ideas. On the other hand, coaching is not collaborative under this definition since the coach and client are working on the client’s goals and the result is different benefits for each.
Examples and Categories of Collaboration
There are many ways to collaborate; one’s imagination and creativity are the only limitation. For convenience I have created a variety of categories by which to discuss various examples of collaboration for entrepreneurs. Often specific examples overlap more than one “category.”
Related ideas include: Cross-promotion, content syndication groups (tribes, alliances). People work together to create social proof and social buzz for one another. This can be informal and casual or highly organized.
I cover the entire subject with detailed explanations of best practice in my book, Build Buzz for Your Blog.
An offline version would be referral groups like BNI that work hard to give each other business referrals (leads).
There’s nothing like the power of brainstorming! The potential is there when two or more people gather. It can be informal or more organized, such as part of a mastermind group. It is collaborative…
- when everyone is working on ideas for a common project. one from which each member will benefit, or
- when the group takes turns, so that each gets the individual benefits from the power of the group.
Collaborative List Building
There are many ways in which two or more people can work together to build each other’s list. Some examples:
- Ad swap – I promote your opt in and free offer to my list (via email announcement or blast); you promote my opt in and free offer to your list
- Group Give-Away – (One version) Let’s say ten entrepreneurs in a somewhat overlapping niche each agree to offer a free product of their own. These products would be complementary to the niche that connects the group and are listed on a single opt in page. A visitor opts in to ten lists simultaneously and downloads all ten digital products.
- Two entrepreneurs agree to write a favorable blog post about each other’s free give-away offer.
There are many possibilities. Here are two examples:
- Like the ad swap above, I promote your for sale product to my list (via email announcement or blast); you promote my for sale product to your list. Or we offer a joint “sale day.”
- More common is for someone with a very good product to team up with someone with a very responsive list. This is commonly called a promotional joint venture. This is typically a negotiated arrangement. (It is also different than an affiliate marketing arrangement.)
Collaborative Product Creation
Two or more people work together on a single product. Also called partnering or a co-ownership joint venture. Examples:
- Co-blogging – The product is a blog. Each member of the team commits to a regular schedule of blog-posts and also assigns technical blog maintenance tasks in an equitable manner.
- eBook – Each of four partners writes one of four chapters of an eBook. Each member owns the resulting book and can use it to build their own list. This is more of a cooperative project. If instead they pass around the draft of each chapter to all four members, and then meet to discuss joint revision plans of each chapter, it would be more of a real collaborative project. Either way, for purposes of this site, it is a collaboratively created product.
- Live Event – A team of people divide up responsibilities for a training workshop. This includes a share in the presentations as well as a share of the administrative and logistical tasks required to make the event work.
When two or more people continue to work together on multiple projects over time, the collaboration has become a partnership.
Informal. The partnership remains informal when the partners retain their individual business identities. This can vary from 100% of the work being devoted to the joint projects of the partners to a much lesser percentage of time. It is recommended that entrepreneurs create written agreements clarifying the contributions and expectations of partners for each project (especially with respect to co-ownership joint ventures and to a slightly lesser degree with respect to promotional joint ventures). When that happens, the project has been formalized, although the relationship is informal.
Formal. A formal partnership takes place when the partners form a company (General Partnership, LLP, or other legal organization).
Other Collaboration Information
Connecting- Finding Collaborative Partners
You cannot collaborate if you don’t know anyone! It all begins with networking.
Networking is the foundation…
- with which to connect with others.
- from which to establish a relationship.
- by which to establish a friendship.
- from which you go on to learn the purposes, potential, personality, and needs of others (critical information).
- upon which collaboration grows.
Do not underestimate the huge necessity of networking.
Networking can take place right where you are. Of course.
But also seek out communities with common interests as your own. Certainly this includes general business interests like the Chamber of Commerce, BNI, and similar groups.
Visit online forums aligned with your niche.
I have found it invaluable to go to national live events sponsored by leading marketers and trainers. Don’t always go to the events provided by a single marketer or marketing community. To meet new prospective partners, attend “outside the box.” For example, if you are an online affiliate marketer, consider attending an internet marketing event hosted by network marketers, and vice versa.
Collaborative Tools and Process
There are many tools that make it easier to work with others, especially online. Many know about the value of Google Docs, but may be surprised if I were to produce a list of hundreds of collaboration tools. Of course you only need a few, but there is almost always just what you need.
The process of collaboration has been studied and I am also researching the experiences of many entrepreneurs who have collaborated. If you have had experience working with others, good or bad, would you like to share that information with others? Learn more on my collaboration interview invitation.
It is my goal to make all information about the collaboration process –as it applies to entrepreneurs– readily available and understood.
I am interested in all of the above topics on Collaboration!
If yes, please join my community of subscribers.
I’ll supply you with more ideas for your collaboration.