Rolling Out the Red Carpet for Your Collaborators
Just in case you’ve been living in a bubble, I have a little news for you: You can’t do business in, well, a bubble. In order to run a digital biz, you’ve got to interact with other business owners. Even if you don’t sell B2B (that’s Business to Business, by the way) you’ll still want to talk to, make requests of, and even partner with other savvy business owners to build your thriving business.
And while you may know that creating an incredible experience for your clients and customers who choose to work with you and your brand is crucial, you might be letting a huge experience ship sail right on by.
Allow me to paint a picture for you:
It’s your turn to host your monthly girl’s night and you decide you want to have everyone over to your house for a dinner party. You make a killer risotto and salmon and you just know everyone is going to love it. You pick out some really great wine and even buy some new dishes so everything feels really luxury — you want to treat your gals right!
As it gets closer to girl’s night you realize that you truly need a fantastic dessert to cap off the evening… and your new-to-town neighbor just happens to be an acclaimed pastry chef who has just opened her own shop. So you drop next door to ask your neighbor if she would come over during dinner and whip up an incredible tiramisu for everyone — you know they’ll just love it. You excitedly explain to your neighbor that your gal pals LOVE desserts and they will be spreading the word all over town about her new shop once they taste her concoction. Exposure!! Your fancy pastry making neighbor happily obliges and heads off to the store to get all of the ingredients she needs.
It’s the afternoon of your big event and you’re one busy bee in the kitchen. The salmon is perfectly cooked, the risotto sparkles in the pan, and the wine is expertly chilled. You realize you are two gals short of your anticipated numbers so you run next door and ask your pastry chef neighbor to get on the phone and invite two more perfect-for-your-crowd ladies to join you for dinner that night. “Of course she wants to help!” you figure. She’s making the dessert, after all.
Your girls start arriving and you are taking coats, complimenting shoes, pouring glasses of vino, snapping selfies, and sharing laughs. Only one of the two gals your neighbor invited could make it but she’s greeted with the same love and admiration and is blended right into your standing group of friends. As you sit down to dive into dinner, your neighbor arrives.
Since dinner is already served, you bustle her into the kitchen and head back to dinner. No time for niceties (or a discussion about the grocery store bill she incurred) right now — you have guests! While the pastry chef is hard at work prepping dessert, you are regaling your gal pals with story after story and, of course, making sure their wine glass is always full. You smile and look around, your guests are truly having a great time!
After clearing the dinner plates, you grab the desserts from the kitchen and serve them up to your friends. They. are. in. love. You didn’t offer details up front so a few of the ladies ask where you got this incredible tiramisu. After briefly sharing the name of the chef and a mention of her new shop, you turn your attention toward your next girl’s night and the plans needed to get it underway. In the kitchen, your new neighbor cleans up, packs her bag, and heads home, showing herself out the side door.
Back in her own home, the pastry chef pours herself a glass of wine (seeing as one wasn’t offered by you) and wonders if any of those ladies will ever come by her shop. After all, exposure is what she was promised, right? And her dessert was damn fine…. but did they even know how they could get more? As she sips her wine and stares down at the receipt for all of those ladyfingers and espresso, she wonders if she truly matters to you or if she was just the right pastry chef in the wrong place.
Anything in this tale of tirami-woe sound familiar? Let me tell you right now, partnership is a two way street. And while you’re rolling out the red carpet for your clients and customers, you absolutely must roll it out for your contributors.
If you host a blog tour or podcast, invite guest authors to contribute to your blog, interview a colleague for your audience, or in any way ask someone to take part in your thing, be sure you check off this list first:
Send post links EARLY and OFTEN
In today’s digital business world, it is unfair to assume that your collaborators work the exact same hours as you do. As the host, it is your responsibility to give advanced notice when you are posting the article/episode/lesson/etc. Sending links to your guest contributor after their WordPress pingback notification has already let them know their post is live is bad business. Honor the time that your guest put into preparing their material by doing your own prep in return.
Pay them (or at least send a gift)
Sending client thank you notes and gifts is understood (right??). But what about the people who rally around you with their time and talents? There are certainly circumstances where paying a contributor doesn’t make sense (podcast guests fall into this category) and then there are those times where paying a pro really does align with their level of contribution (if they are guest teaching a bonus lesson inside of your private program, for example). If payment doesn’t make sense for your circumstance, be sure that you thank them for what they have provided with a simple gift. Sending a (much needed) Starbucks egift might be a good start. For bonus points, pick something a bit more personal and send a handwritten note. At minimum, give a few social media shout outs to their upcoming programs, products, or services.
Provide ALL of your needs up front
You’ve got a lot going on, right? Well so do your collaborators! By providing everything you need up front, you create an easy path for them to work with you — and they’ll also be even more inclined to share your stuff! If you want them to respond to your interview questions via email, share a link in their social profiles, and also send an email the week their post goes live, be up front about it. You can send all of the details in an email, create a custom page on your website, or build a Dropbox full of all of the details. Business owners are constantly making decisions and playing along with you should be an easy yes….. and it can be with some simple forethought and planning.
The (over)promised result of collaborating with another entrepreneur is often “exposure to a new audience”. Well, maybe. But only if they are actually getting the exposure as implied. Are you pointing your readers to that guest teacher’s newest offering? Are you talking about why that person matters to you in your private Facebook groups? Are you sharing how their expertise has impacted your business and WHY you invited them to collaborate with you in the first place? Give your guests as much love and attention as your clients and customers so that they see the return in working with you.
Before your next adventure in collaboration, ask yourself “Am I providing as much value to this person as they are to me? Am I rolling out the red carpet for my clients AND my guests?”
Here’s my confession: I haven’t always been the best at this. In fact, stepping back to focus on these connection points is my mission this year. I’m learning my own lessons right along with you and building the people-focused systems and pathways as I go sometimes. How about you?
Have you always presented your guest contributors with the best experience? Confess where you stand in the comments below so we can all rally around you. Let’s build a better way of doing business together right now.
Originally published at www.aspireandgrow.com on April 23, 2015.