Forming collaborations with other businesses is one of the best ways to grow your business, raise brand awareness, and bring new skills into your business. The hard part with partnerships and collaborations is how to develop them! Here’s my Go To Guide for Collabs!
Determine WHAT you are aiming to achieve
First step is to think about what you are trying to accomplish from the relationship- are you looking for a simple on-off activity, or are you looking for a longer-term partnership? Ideas of things you can partner on:
- An offer in a newsletter
- A social media post or series of posts
- An event
- A blog post
Or you might want to suggest:
- Becoming referral partners
- Sharing your service providers
- Looking for a joint publicity opportunity
Once you have established the purpose, the next step is to determine with whom!
Find WHO you want to partner with
When determining your ideal partner, identify someone with a shared vision and values and a common target market. An easy way to do this is to have a look at someone in a parallel business. For example, if you sell mobile phones, you might want to partner with someone who sells mobile phone accessories. Or another way is to find someone in a similar or related industry i.e. if you sell cookbooks and they sell mixers. You could even go completely left field, so long as they share the same target audience. Even if someone is a “direct competitor”, there may be many ways that you can work together for mutual benefit that will grow both your audiences and not detract from them. Another great way to find people who are already actively seeking collaborations is a great online platform (for example, your favourite entrepreneur group, or https://collabosaurus.com/)
Make the connection
The best way to develop relationships (if possible) is face to face. Attending networking events is an amazing way to expand your network, or attend specific events that you know your potential partners will be attending. As a generalisation, women buy from people they like, so it is particularly important to build the relationship before you ask to collaborate with someone.
If face to face isn’t an option, develop your relationships online- follow them on social media, and most importantly, interact with them in a meaningful way (“great pic” is not a deep comment 😉). Do this over a period of time, and really invest the time to learn about their business (and make sure you really are a good fit!). Also, don’t assume that because someone has a heap of followers or because they run a really successful business that they won’t want to hear from you. Smart business people are always keen to hear about new opportunities that can benefit their customers!
Once you have started to build a connection, write an email to introduce yourself, and say why you love their product/ brand (be specific, to show that you genuinely care about their business and that this isn’t a generic approach to a whole bunch of businesses!). Keep it brief and to the point, and most importantly, focus on what is in it for them (and preferably back it up with some data). You don’t need to present your whole business partnership proposal in the first email.
Ideally, you then arrange a phone catch up or a face to face meeting (this will depend of course on what you are proposing… if it’s a simple social media post, this can be done via email!).
An example of a good approach email:
I love your business ____ and have been a follower for a while. I particularly like your philosophies around____ and the way you ___.
<quick intro to your business>
My idea is to ____ and in return I’d love to _____. Wondering if we can arrange a quick phone catch up or coffee to discuss opportunity further”.
*Make sure you provide all your social media handles, website and contact details.
If you don’t hear back from them, don’t despair! Sometimes takes a lot of no’s before you get a yes! You might even approach the same person multiple times before you make a connection. Or if they are not interested, not to worry, there are plenty more fish in the sea, so approach some other businesses instead.
A few tips for success in a partnership
- Create an environment of trust, openness and honesty
- Respect each other’s differences and strengths
- Practise excellent communication to make sure no misunderstandings
- Make sure the arrangement is mutually beneficial& fair
And remember, if it becomes clear the partnership is not going to work, its ok to walk away (provided you are not breaching anything you’d agreed to!)
One of the most powerful, cost efficient and effective ways to grow your business is through collaborations. So, reach out and connect! When women support other women, amazing things happen…