How to choose who to align yourself with

As your career or business advances, you’re going to have the opportunity to partner, collaborate and work with a variety of people.

What’s surprising to me is how some people make decisions. I’ve seen some turn down offers from well-intentioned, well-meaning people who would have fairly compensated them for their work. But because of some underlying emotional baggage or stress in their daily lives, they made the rather unlikely choice of staying put instead of taking a chance and moving forward with their creativity and passion.

Now, I’m an entrepreneur. So, if I was in their position, I would have jumped at the opportunity. But not everyone thinks like an entrepreneur, and not everyone is comfortable taking a chance upfront and problem solving along the way.

As I’ve started saying lately:

Entrepreneurship is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute and problem-solving on the way down.

Who Do You Align Yourself With?

This is what got me thinking about this topic of who to align yourself with. Sometimes, no matter how influential or highly regarded someone is, associating with them can bring you down. At other times, you might be surprised by how the most unlikely people come to your aid or rescue at just the right time.

Regardless, you become like those you spend time with, so as you continue to build your career or business, it’s going to become increasingly important to be more selective with who you spend your time and associate with. You’re going to want to build your support group or inner circle, because you’re going to come to depend on those people, especially as the going gets tough.

Who you align yourself is critical to your success. Here are several methods people use to decide who to work with, and the upsides and downsides of each.

Choosing Who To Work With Based On How You’ll Look

This is one of the worst criteria for choosing who to align yourself with.

Now, given, there may be some people you don’t want to be associated with, such as extremists, controversial figures, criminals and so on.

I’m not saying there aren’t reasons why you might associate with people like that. But you must consider your reputation as well as the long-term consequences of associating with someone, no matter who you’re choosing to be involved with.

So, to make all decisions based on how you’ll look is the most superficial way to decide who to work with. If this is how you make decisions, more than likely, you’ll make some poor choices and miss opportunities to work with some great people.

We as people are much too concerned with appearances. Just look at all the ways people look for validation on social media. My business coach, James Schramko, once described seeking validation on social media as a mental disorder, and I don’t think he’s too far off.

If you’re only concerned with looking good, then you’re not making a balanced decision. And, odds are you aren’t living authentically either.

Choosing Who To Work With Based On Your Values

The best way to decide who to work with is to choose people with whom you have shared values.

Honestly, virtually every relationship works better when the people involved have shared values. This goes just as much for romantic relationships as it does for business relationships.

In a romantic relationship, your intense feelings of attraction can subside after a few years. But if you have shared interests and values, the relationship can continue to flourish long after those emotions have started waning.

This isn’t to say there aren’t ways of stoking those fires again. But generally, the relationship has a much better chance at surviving long-term if both people involved value the same things.

In a business arrangement, if the people you’re working with are convicted about the same things you are, they are less likely to make decisions that go against your conscience. So, they are more likely to make decisions that are congruent with your objectives.

In a business partnership, if one values money and the other values adding value to people, priorities can quickly get out of order. If they can find a way to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, they still have a chance at success. But if both people keep pushing for what they want, the partnership will not last.

So, if you think there’s long-term potential in a partnership, you should work with people that stand for the same things you do.

Choosing Who To Work With Based On An Established Track Record

Now, there can be both good and bad track records.

But if you have a good track record with someone, you should certainly consider working with them again.

Let’s say you once collaborated with another expert in your industry on an online course and it was a big success. Why wouldn’t you try that again? If you’ve uncovered a winning formula, you should keep using it.

There are certain people I continue to work with because I’ve been able to achieve more with their help. We work well together, and because they bring a lot of resources to the table, it makes it easier for me to do my work.

This doesn’t mean that bad partnership can’t turn into good ones, and good partnerships can’t turn sour either.

But for the most part, I’ve found that if I have an established track record with someone, I can expect the same level of support and interest in a new venture.

Choosing To Work With People You Trust

I find it’s generally a good idea to work with people you trust. But trust must be earned. So, you still need to ask yourself what others have done to earn your trust.

It’s easy to demonstrate commitment when everything is going well. But will those same people come through for you when the poop hits the fan?

The reality is that you often don’t know who your friends are until you get into the business.

That might sound negative, but the reality is that not everyone is going to support you. If you’re just getting started in your business or career and everything seems to be going great, be forewarned — many people who said they would buy your product won’t when you finally launch it.

Again, it’s a good idea to work with people you trust. But this isn’t a foolproof method for choosing who to align yourself with. There are plenty of charismatic people who might charm you upfront but do you a disservice to you on the backend.


There’s no perfect way to choose who to align yourself with.

But as you continue to develop a relationship with those around you, you’ll get a better sense of who you can count on, who you can trust and whose values you resonate with.

Apart from that, we tend to make decisions superficially, which often doesn’t work out. Either that, or we end up relying on pure instinct, which can work out, but we can just as easily make an emotional decision and justify it with logic later. Then, we end up missing important signs that it’s not going to work out.

So long as you’re on this path, you’re going to be working with others. So, it’s a good idea to determine how you’re going to decide who to work with. Early on, the consequences of failure may be minimal. But as the steaks get higher, it becomes increasingly important that you make good decisions.

So, in closing, I’d like to ask you a few questions:

  • Who are you aligning yourself with right now?
  • What values do you share with them?
  • Do you have an established track record with them?
  • Do you trust them?
  • Have you noticed any flaws in your decision-making process?
  • What have been the consequences of aligning yourself with who you’ve chosen to associate with?
  • How are you going to decide who to align yourself with moving forward?

Originally published in on September 13, 2018.