Want to work together?!? Today I’ll share the 4 simple steps to collaboration that I use in my business. But stick around to the end because the 4th step can make or break the entire process. I’m Chris Kapelski and this, is Marketing Tip Monday. Today’s marketing tip #31. How to Collaborate.

How to Collaborate… Successfully

Collaboration is a HUGE part of being successful in business, and in life. If you’re going to be successful, at some point, you’re going to have to collaborate. In my business lifetime thus far I’ve been a part of countless collaborations that have both succeeded and failed. I learned from those experiences and ultimately created 4 steps that I always use when I collaborate.

Step 1: Think About YOUR Strengths & Weaknesses

In all of my years of collaboration, I can tell you that this step gets missed more often than not. We get so excited about the idea of collaborating that we jump right in and schedule our meeting. Don’t do that. Instead, take a deep breath and think about your strengths and weaknesses. Those are going to be critical when you start collaborating.


What are you good at? Maybe it’s being creative. Maybe you’re great at marketing. Or perhaps you’re very personable and people love being around you. No matter what it is, this is the value that you will bring to the other party in your collaboration. That’s key. You have to be willing to bring value to your collaboration in order for it to be successful.


What are your weaknesses? Not great at sales? Not tech-friendly? Don’t worry. Just write them down. These are the characteristics that you’ll be looking for in a collaborative partner. Successful collaboration means your partner will be able to fill the gaps where you have weaknesses and you’ll be able to do the same for them.

Bonus Tip: Adopt the Right Mindset

As you’re thinking about your strengths and weaknesses adopt the right mindset. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Doing so will sabotage your collaborations. No one wants to work with a know it all, or someone who tries to do everything. Instead, be honest with yourself. Then bring your strengths and weaknesses to the table with an open mind.

Step 2: Do Your Research

Take the weaknesses list you created in step 1 and start doing some research. What types of partners would help fill the voids on your list? A partner that fills those voids is a critical component of a successful collaboration. How do you find those partners? A couple of ways. First, you can try researching online. There are a ton of social media groups, websites, etc. out there with people looking to collaborate. If that doesn’t work ask people you currently network with. “I’m looking for someone that does XYZ. Do you happen to know anyone?” Either way, you’ll end up with a list of names that could be a potential collaborator.

Bonus Tip: Don’t Over Analyze

Find as many people that you could potentially collaborate with as possible. Don’t over-analyze and reduce the list before you even have a chance to meet. This can lead to bad things and you may find yourself with no one to collaborate. I almost made this mistake early on.


When I first started in business, I wanted to collaborate with everyone. I reached out to all the people in my industry and asked if they wanted to meet up. Perhaps we could help each other. What I found was surprising. Most of the people I reached out to shut me down and didn’t want to meet. This quickly lead to a negative mindset. I started thinking that I shouldn’t reach out to everyone, because I couldn’t stand being told no. Luckily, I decided to see my plan out and I reached out to the rest of my list. I STRUCK GOLD. One of the last people remaining on my list said yes, we met, and we still collaborate to this very day. From that point on I decided to never over-analyze my potential collaborations again.

Step 3: Meet With Potential Collaborators

This is where the process really starts to heat up. You’re going to meet with ALL of your potential collaborative partners. There are a few things you should focus on in these meetings to ensure they’re successful.


First, ensure the conversation throughout the entire meeting is open and honest.

No great relationship is built on lies. If your conversation doesn’t remain honest, you will both leave with an inaccurate representation of the other person. While you may leave thinking you can collaborate, over time I can guarantee the relationship will fizzle out.


Second, talk about your future plans.

This should be the meat of the entire conversation. Really take time and discuss what you need help with, as well as, what you can help with. Doing so will show you exactly where the collaboration lies. Perhaps you have dreams of building an amazing website that solves the world’s problems. To your surprise you may find out this partner can help with that.


Third, set expectations. 

Toward the end of the meeting talk about what you expect from the collaboration. What are your goals? What are the next steps? Again, talk about these things open and honestly. Doing so will ensure you are both on the same page moving forward. This will keep you on the path to a successful collaboration.

Bonus Tip: Keep the Conversation Mutual

Remember, this is a collaboration. Don’t just talk about your future plans. If the conversation is too one-sided, one partner will feel neglected and it creates a horrible foundation on which to build. Make sure you leave equal time to talk about your potential partner’s future plans.

Step 4: Create a Gameplan

Many collaborations will fail because they don’t reach this 4th and final step. Once you’ve set expectations in your meeting, create an ongoing gameplan. You have to have a game plan to help guide your collaborative efforts toward success over time. Think of it as a road map. Sure, you may have discussed your goals in a meeting. But how do you accomplish those without a plan?


Furthermore, put a timeline to your gameplan. Without a timeline, you have no idea of who will do what by when. Worse yet, everyone will be confused and before you know it, you’ll stop meeting.


Last but certainly not least. Set accountability rules and schedule regular meetings. Accountability is a key component of any great partnership. It sets expectations and allows you to keep each other on task and honest as you move toward your mutual goals. The same is true for regular meetings. It’s easy to get derailed by life if you don’t create and stick to a schedule. So don’t miss out on those key things.

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