What Entrepreneurs Really Want You to Know About Collaborations
In business, there comes a time when we have to reach out to others to expand our community and market. We do that by networking with other business owners and brands. The best method to use for expansion is collaborations. Working with other people can excel your business tremendously! Working with other business owners not only in your niche, but in your industry is the way to go. Think about industry professionals who work together all the time. For example, a wedding planner may work with other professionals such as photographers, hair and makeup artists, florists and stationery professionals. These people would develop relationships with one another then possibly work on projects together to get their businesses in front of each other’s audiences.
Collaborations are important and they are instrumental in growing your business. Collaborations are extremely useful when there is awesome energy and cooperation from all parties involved. When considering collaborations, there are many things that you should think about before you pitch a project to someone. As a matter of fact, there are a few things that every business owner would love and appreciate you for. The gist of it all is to have your stuff together before you reach out!
I haven’t done any webinar or workshop project collaborations yet. I have worked on a few partnership projects where I’ve created e-products specifically for a particular brand. I have also worked several photo shoots for creatives as a beauty artist in my other life. There's a list of things I repeatedly hear from many professionals about being pitched to collaborate. It's what we all want other entrepreneurs to know. Here they are:
Build a relationship first
I have a little story about the importance of relationship building. One day I was in dire need of a barber for my son. I don’t know any good barbers in my area, so I found someone from Google. I don’t let just anyone cut my son’s hair, but I will go with an edge-up at the most if there is someone new around. While waiting, the owner asked me what I did for a living so I shared both of my businesses with him. Once he realized that one of my businesses was in the same industry as his, he immediately went into a long demanding pitch about how we could create a management company together and outsource artists for work for a small management fee.
There’s one big thing missing from his pitch and a few things wrong with this conversation. The biggest issue I had was the fact that I’d just met him. We didn’t know each other! We didn’t have a relationship prior to this pitch. I don’t know his work ethic, nor did he know anything about me.
This is also one of the biggest issues with collab pitches that I hear. Some people approach collaborations from the point of need. They immediately show that they want something from the other person. They don’t try to build a relationship and monitor their business for a while.
Now, I do realize that some projects come together seamlessly with a first pitch, but building a relationship is very important. I can’t stress this enough! When you pitch someone for a collaboration, attempt to build a relationship with them first before asking them for something.
Have an idea before pitching
When you see a brand that you’d love to work with, think of some things that you two can do that both businesses can mutually benefit from. Take a look at your weaknesses and their strengths in specific areas that your audiences could learn from or enjoy. Think about how this idea would launch and the strategies you two would use to bring this idea to life.
Or, create the idea in its entirety and think about how another business owner could help your audience while you help theirs. Then when you pitch the idea to someone, most of the work will already be done. They would need to add their information and move forward with the project. Great collaboration ideas can be joint photoshoots if you are highly visual brands or mutual workshops that benefit both audiences.
Pitching someone with an idea prepared and ready to go shows that you have thought things out thoroughly and that you respect their time. Simply telling someone that you’d love to collaborate does nothing for the both of you. It’s a waste of time! Remember have an idea and possible outcomes that provide details or create the entire idea and find your business partner to fill in their portion.
Respect their title and time
Let’s pretend you’ve built a relationship with someone you’ve met and feel really comfortable with asking to collaborate on a project. You're at a point where you have to communicate your idea with them. Be sure to approach them by their name even if you have a homie relationship outside of business email and such. It’s shows respect and says a lot about you, trust me. Make sure to not call anyone “bro, bruh, girl, boo, lady” or anything that’s not their name.
Also, it’s super important to respect their time. If you are emailing someone about a collaboration, tell them something you like about them. Mention a few things you love about their business. Get to the point of the email. Mention benefits for them. Leave your contact information, website and social media outlets for them to have access to. Give them time to respond. After about a week, if no response, ask them for the follow-up.
Pitching collaborations is not some huge conversational piece to convince someone to work with you. It’s straight with no chaser. It’s to the point highlighting key points about the business owner, the business itself, the project you two should do together and the mutual benefits for both audiences. Although I‘ve never pitched someone for a workshop or online training, I’ve certainly pitched photographers and other artists to work on the visual aesthetics of my brands and portfolios. I've also been pitched to. Some were successful and some were epic fails *insert cricket sounds*. That's why this post is so necessary. Keep these tips in mind when pitching collaborations. Develop genuine relationships, approach them by name and get to the point!