System #6: Collaboration

Josh Steimle
Dec 21, 2018 · 7 min read

Work with others to 1000x your influence. You can only do so much on your own. Find partners. Make your audience your partner. Create a tribe.

[taken from LinkedIn short email course, needs rewriting for book]

At this point you might be saying “Josh, I’ve already got so much to work on here, this is great, nothing more needed!”

That would be a mistake.

If you have something that will benefit the world, you have an obligation to share it with as many people as you can. How would you like to impact 1,000x more people than you are influencing today? Then you need to collaborate with others.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. — Helen Keller

Several years ago my friend Derek Andersen created Startup Grind as a series of monthly fireside chats focused on entrepreneurship. At each event, he interviewed a different successful entrepreneur. At first, a handful of people attended the meetups, but then Derek invited others to start local chapters of Startup Grind and host their own events. There are now over 500 chapters of Startup Grind worldwide, and over 1.5 million people have attended Startup Grind events. Derek could never have made this impact on his own. It required a team effort.

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, seems like the perfect example of a highly influential person who didn’t collaborate. However, she was friends with Truman Capote and was influenced and aided by him. In addition, she never would have published Mockingbird if two of her friends hadn’t gifted her a year’s salary so she could take time off to write it.

One of the most exciting collaborations on LinkedIn has been the wildly successful #LinkedInLocal events that have spread around the world. It all started with a post by Anna McAfee, inviting her friends via LinkedIn to join her at a coffee shop in Coffs Harbor, Australia. Her event was successful, but it went further than that small meeting at the cafe. Within hours, others who had seen Anna’s post were organizing their own LinkedIn Local events around the world. I recently had the chance to sit down in London with Alexanda Galviz, aka Authentic Alex, who held the first LinkedIn Local event in London. She told me how the events were completely organic but tapped into a desire many people on LinkedIn had to meet their connections in person. Today, there’s a LinkedIn Local website where you can find events, which have already been held in more than 350 cities. If you want the more complete story here’s an excellent article covering it by Jillian Bullock.

LinkedIn Overhaul Step #6 — Find Your Ideal Collaborators

To use LinkedIn to its fullest capacity for collaboration, first find potential partners and collaborators by answering the following questions:

  1. Who do you share your genius zone with? What other experts do what you’re doing?
  2. Take a step back. Who do you share expert zones with? They may not do exactly what you do, but their knowledge and experience overlaps with yours.
  3. Who else is targeting your ideal audience? They may or may not overlap with you in any of your products or services, but because you have the same audience there may be a win-win opportunity to work together.
  4. Are there any other individuals, groups, or conferences that come to mind?

As with every other system, it’s often best to start out small and test your ideas before launching into a huge project. Before you try to set up a website or other method to collaborate with thousands of people, try collaborating with one person manually to see what issues come up, and how you can find the best win-win situation possible.

You can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed. — Napoleon Hill

Homework: Create A LinkedIn Accountability Group

There are many ways to collaborate on LinkedIn. You can create an engagement pod, involve your audience in research, or host live events like Anna, Alex, and hundreds of others have done.

If you already have an idea for how you want to use LinkedIn to collaborate then more power to you. If you’re not sure, then consider this homework assignment which will bring you great benefits, regardless of what your goals are–create a high-performance LinkedIn accountability group. Here are the steps to create it:

  1. Keep it simple. This is the first advice I’ll give, because if you don’t keep it simple, you won’t do it. Don’t over complicate things.
  2. Pick a goal. I would recommend you focus on content creation. If you want to create one post per week, then the goal for everyone in the group will be one post per week. But it could be three, or five. Or if you have an easy time writing but you struggle with video, you might create an accountability group for a single video post each week and leave writing out of it.
  3. Pick people with a good track record. Choose 10–15 people who will be active, then expect 30% to disappear immediately. That’s just reality. As you identify people you want in your group, make sure these are people who will be successful. Don’t give yourself the stress of having to pull everyone along with you. You want self-starters who will lift themselves and others up.
  4. Pick a leader. Since you’re reading this, it’s probably you. If you really, really, really don’t want to lead this group, invite someone else to go through this email course and then convince them to be the leader.
  5. Create ground rules and set expectations. Make sure everyone knows what’s ok, what’s not ok, and that they’ve all bought into it.
  6. Choose the right tech. You can use a LinkedIn messaging thread, a Facebook group, Slack, WhatsApp, or anything else. I wouldn’t use LinkedIn groups, they’re terrible.
  7. Communicate frequently. Set up a weekly check-in through your tech. This can be live, on video, or you could ask everyone to check in at some point during the day with their progress. Don’t restrict members from checking in more than once a week, but make once a week the minimum.

If you set up a simple accountability group like this, you’ll get things done you otherwise won’t get done. You’ll also learn a lot from your fellow members as you each share what you’re learning and ask questions of each other. You’ll also find a built-in group of individuals who will always comment on your posts.

This is how it starts. Keep it up, and you’ll see a 1000x improvement on LinkedIn.

Case Studies

My friend Derek Andersen created Startup Grind as a fireside chat between himself and a successful entrepreneur with a handful of people attending. Now there are 500+ chapters of SUG worldwide, and over 1.5 million people have attended SUG events. Derek could never have made this impact on his own.

Even Harper Lee, whose solo work the book To Kill a Mockingbird seems like a perfect example of someone who didn’t collaborate, was friends with Truman Capote and was influenced and aided by him, and she never would have written her book if two of her friends hadn’t gifted her a year’s salary so she could take time off to write it.

Quotes

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” — Michael Jordan

“Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” — Patrick Lencioni

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” — Napolean Hill

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” — Booker T. Washington

“None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” — Mother Teresa

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” — Amy Poehler

“A movement is defined as having three elements: (1) A narrative that tells a story about who we are and the future we’re trying to build. (2) A connection between and among the leader and the tribe. (3) Something to do - the fewer limits the better. Too often organizations fail to do anything but the third.” — Seth Godin, Tribes

Resources

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467-6486.00342

http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2011-14097-001

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/asi.10278

https://amzn.to/2BuXBpQ

Notes

Transparency and frankness necessary to improve collaboration: “Politeness is the poison of collaboration.” — Edwin Land

Collaboration works in multiple directions; 1) you can broadcast your content to others who rebroadcast it, 2) your collaborators will influence you to help you learn and improve.

How can you become more influential by collaborating with those more influential than you are?

How can you become more influential by collaborating with those less influential than you are?

How can you become more influential by collaborating with your peers?

Why does win-win matter for collaboration?

What are obstacles to collaboration?

Josh Steimle

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Writer, speaker, entrepreneur.