An IT colleague of ours recently posted a video on LinkedIn, discussing how she was in Brisbane to meet with her peer group. She commented that these group members are all in a similar space to her own business and therefore considered “competition” and yet, she gains so much value from meeting with them regularly, learning from each other, setting goals and being accountable.
Having witnessed Ben be part of the same HTG IT peer organisation over the past four years, I would agree - I have seen Ben grow personally, as well as our business grow, due to his active participation in this group. And it’s not just about keeping an eye on each other’s financials or learning about IT best practices, although the accountability on their business goals is certainly a big part of it. The group also discuss many personal aspects of business ownership, such as their relationships and the legacy they’re creating in this lifetime. These group members form a bond. Before I’d even met any of Ben's peer group members, they flew from all around Australia to attend the funeral of our youngest son and wrap us in love, thus was the relationship they’d built in the 12 months since the group began.
I truly believe the days of 'dog eat dog’ business world is diminishing, and many people are seeing the benefits of embracing an ‘abundance mindset’ and building collaborative relationships with other likeminded business owners.
"A scarcity mindset believes much, if not everything, is limited. A business with a scarcity mindset holds everything close to the vest and is uncomfortable or unwilling to do business beyond its own walls. The thinking is if another company gets a bit more, there’s less to go around.Then there is the abundance mindset. I like this mindset because it is limitless and innovative. This mindset says: Go ahead and take a piece of my pie. We can eat it until it’s gone. There’s not a shortage of pie. And, if we do run out, we can work together to make and introduce a new pie into the market that we and others can enjoy.”~ Cisco blog.
Building collaborative relationships to achieve common goals can be very beneficial in a number of ways:
- Generating new ideas through different skill sets and perspectives.
As business owners, it can be easy to get stuck wearing all of the hats and doing all of the things, but not always achieving the best outcomes. We can’t be experts at everything. Building collaborative relationships means that we can each bring our own specialist skillset and our own unique perspective to the table and increase the value of our joint offering. With the help of your network, you have the value of being able to think up new ideas, address a problem from a number of different perspectives and find solutions that you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of all by yourself.
- Achieving your goals with more accountability and support.
While it would be nice to think we can be motivated all the time, sometimes it helps to have people on the sidelines keeping us accountable on the goals and action list we’ve set and cheering us on when we need some encouragement to keep moving forward. Knowing that we need to report back on our progress at our next meeting with our business network can be the gentle nudge we need to knock a task off the list and achieve some action towards our goals. Running a business can feel quite isolating at times - it can be lonely at the top. There are so many benefits to surrounding ourselves with a network of likeminded business people who 'get it' and who can support each other in the challenges of business ownership.
- Increasing the size of your network and exposure.
Building business relationships and working collaboratively on a joint project can be a great opportunity to increase the size of the audience you can communicate with, market and sell to, as you both share the project with your own existing client base. Or perhaps as you establish a relationship, you realise it would be beneficial to introduce a new person in your network to another important contact of yours and, thus, the business network and exposure increases.
So, how do we go about building these collaborative relationships?
1. Be open to opportunities to meet new people.
With an abundance mindset on board, be open to opportunities that might come up to meet new people and establish business relationships. Whether that be going to a conference, a new industry event, a business breakfast or joining an online forum of likeminded people, keep your eye out for the chance to meet new contacts.
2. You will need to introduce yourself.
You might be shy, but you won’t meet anyone if you’re a wallflower. Take a deep breath, be proactive and share something of yourself so people can get to know you. You don’t need to make a hard sell (in fact, it’s probably best you don’t), just be interested in what other people have to offer and consistently contribute to the conversation - whether that’s online or in person.
3. Build genuine relationships.
You don’t have to be business besties with everyone, but if you find a likeminded individual and think it would be a mutually beneficial relationship, suggest you catch up another time and find out a bit more about what you both do.
4. Suggest a project collaboration.
Think there’s a project you could work on together that would be a win-win for both of you? Propose the idea and see how you can make it work.
The power of meeting in person
As an introvert, I am definitely guilty of choosing to email rather than engage in a phone call or video call or meet with someone in person. In this ‘virtual’ age, we have the convenience of being able to meet with people all over the world from the comfort of our own PCs - Skype for Business, Zoom, and other video conferencing software makes that very easy these days. We can even wear pyjamas while we meet, if we want to 😉But just because it’s convenient, doesn’t mean it’s always the best option.
You have probably had the experience of finally meeting in person someone you’d only ever known via a name on their email signature or their little profile picture on Facebook - it’s a powerful shift when we finally get to know someone face to face. Sometimes across online or digital communication methods what we say can get a little lost in translation. People may misinterpret a tone, meaning or message, and go forth with a completely wrong idea. While digital communication can be very beneficial in many ways, it doesn’t always allow us to build as solid a level of trust. In person, you can physically shake the hand of the person you’re connecting with, share a joke or even go and get a coffee together. All of these things serve to build stronger personal communication which is at the core of building positive relationships and business connections.
While we might be marketing our professional services to other businesses, at the end of the day we are all humans doing business with other humans and we are more likely to do business with people we know, like and trust. The power of connection and collaboration can be of benefit to all of us, not just personally, but also professionally. How can you embrace an abundance mindset and start create new collaborative business relationships today?
We’d love to invite you along to our next live event, The Small Business Download, for small business leaders. Real people, real stories, and real, actionable advice to help power up your business.