Collaboration is about building something larger than yourself with kindred spirits who share your vision. It’s your fast track to greatness when it gives you access to more resources & ideas than you’d have on your own. The more you have in common with your collaborators, the more successful your joint ventures will be.
When I talk about having more in common with your collaborators, I’m actually talking about your shared larger vision, not your personality traits. It can be helpful to partner with someone or a group who complements your personality, not mirrors it. If you surround yourself with people who have the exact same disposition as you, there’ll be nobody to point out your blind spots and handle the things you don’t do so well on your own.
For instance, if you’re interested in raising your visibility and you’re an introvert, you probably need some extrovert insights to get you where you want to go. While you’re free to tweak any suggestions you get, you do need a different point of view so you can try new things, see what works, and do more of that.
Sharing the same larger vision also means your ideas will cross-pollinate and build on each other. If you’re hosting a telesummit or participating in one, you want to be sure everything comes together under a common powerful theme. Your success depends on how well each of you understands the larger vision and interprets his or her role in it. When everyone’s on the same page and free to put their own twist on it, you get a powerful set of interviews that listeners can’t get enough of, and you each demonstrate how you can help potential clients who wish to work with you. It all boils down to how clear and magnetic you are when you play your part of the symphony and how well you fit in with the rest of the orchestra.
Collaboration may be an official joint venture like a retreat or a 6-month coaching program, or it may be an informal meeting of minds over coffee or brunch. The point is to expose yourself to other brilliant minds who choose to solve specific problems and offer elegant solutions to persistent headaches.
Let’s say you’re a copywriter interested in helping new business owners figure out their brand so they can speak in their own voice and feel comfortable in their skin. You can team up with a graphic designer and a photographer so the three of you offer a diverse professional package: headshots, website design, and blazing hot copy that seamlessly fit together. Each of you offers specialized services, and when you come together, you help newbie entrepreneurs start things off right so they don’t waste money trying to fix pictures, websites, or words that just don’t reflect who they truly are.
The beauty of collaboration lies in creating something larger than yourself, something that taps into the brilliance and light in two or more of you who have a common goal and different roles in reaching that goal. Billion-dollar companies and empires have teams of people working towards a set of goals, and those teams cover as many angles as possible while they solve problems, create new things, and stay true to the founding values of their companies. It’s that connection to founding values that separates the successes from the flops because the teams who lose sight of their original values lose their edge and their attraction to old and new customers.
Collaboration isn’t all rainbows and sprinkles, of course. If you’re officially teaming up with one or more people to provide a product or service, you need to know your legal rights under the agreement and fully understand the terms of engagement. If the partnership dissolves or breaks down for any reason, who gets what? If you’re struggling with miscommunication and botched projects, how do you resolve your issues? Who’s responsible for what, how much are you getting paid for what, and how will each of you be held accountable for what you say you’re going to do?
It’s best to think of the hard questions before you partner up, especially if you plan to stay together for any length of time. When you have measures in place to address difficulties, you’re able to grow together and learn from each other. But if you plunge ahead without preparing to face conflicts of opinion and other sticky bits, what started out as such a good idea might fall apart under the weight of bitterness and unresolved disputes. Don’t let that be you!
If you’re collaborating for a finite period, it’s even more important to cover all your bases and ensure each person is treated fairly so there’s no bad blood at the end of your working relationship. You may team up with a wide range of people, maybe even some from different industries, and you want to be known as a fair, generous team player so other people are eager to work with you. Covering all your bases means you can work with all sorts of people and not have your partnerships fall down around your ears.
It’s also helpful to be super clear on your individual and joint responsibilities so everybody pulls their own weight. Nobody likes slackers, and if you find yourself saddled with one or more of those, you need to know how to handle them and ease them out if they keep holding everyone else up. When you have responsibilities and penalties for shirking those responsibilities clearly laid out, you can navigate most crises and tricky spots with a level head.
Ultimately, collaboration is about the magic that happens when two or more people pool their resources to create something beautiful. Whether it’s a telesummit, live conference, coaching program, book, company, or some other product or service, it’s a group effort to create something powerful and magnetic that showcases the different skills of each contributor. It’s a joint venture to meet a need, provide solutions, and prepare people to grow into larger, brighter versions of themselves. The best collaborators are clear on why they’ve come together, what they intend to do, and how their audience will benefit from them.
Clarity and community are the driving forces of collaborative success, so when you create or join a team, be sure you complement each other and play a beautiful symphony as a harmonious orchestra. Making magic together boils down to having the same larger vision, knowing your individual strengths and weaknesses, and having measures in place to shore up the weaknesses so the strengths shine through. Be sure your collaborations are solid, and they’ll catapult you into the next level of growth and excellence in your business.