Creating Collaborative Business Relationships

Collaborating with other businesspeople is a key to success as an entrepreneur. But if you’ve tried and failed to foster mutually beneficial relationships or started a partnership that you felt was too one-sided, you might be skeptical that collaboration can actually work.

But you just need a different approach. Traditional networking doesn’t always work. But there is a relatively new medium that allows you to land important contacts with the heavy hitters in your niche and get access to their audience – maybe even get a direct endorsement.

If you want to grow your business – this is a must-have. Stop waiting for opportunities to come to you – go out and grab them. I go over ways to kick things off, as well as…

  • The power of “interviewing” to turn heavy hitters in your niche into partners
  • How to get an “influencer” to promote you and your business
  • Growing your business through a smarter lead generation system
  • The right way to measure the “success” of your business relationships
  • Potential opportunities to explore once rapport has been established

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:

If I offered to write a great lead-generating book for you in the next 60-days would you take me up on that offer?

Interested? Get all the details, including a $750,000 book case-study…click the button to go there now.


Steve Gordon: Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO Podcast. I’m your host, Steve Gordon, and I’m excited for this episode. We are here today, we’re going to talk about the Inevitable Growth Scorecard. This is the fifth of the mindsets that are listed on the scorecard. And if you’ve missed them, I have been with my great collaboration partner, John Curry, for the first four of these episodes. So we have covered who is your who, we’ve covered the target 100 advantage, we’ve covered clear value and we’ve covered ideas that sell.

And today is rather ironic. We’re covering collaboration advantage. And I don’t have my collaborator here. I don’t have Mr. Curry with me. Schedules couldn’t align and the show had to go on. So here we are. And we’re going to cover this. And I think there’s some really great things here because I think one of the really overlooked opportunities in most businesses is the opportunity to create collaborative relationships.

Creating Collaborative Business Relationships

And I think it’s overlooked often because people don’t really understand how to do it well and really make it work both for you and for the other party and make it easy for everybody involved. And so we’re going to talk about a little bit of that today. And we’re going to go through the mindsets. So if you haven’t gone and grabbed your growth score, I recommend that you go do that. You can listen to this episode without having it but when we’re done, you’ll want to stop, go to and you can go through the scorecard there.

And you’ll go through each of these mindsets. You’ll read a little description about each mindset and sort of score yourself where you think you are on a scale from one to 12, where you are now. And then you might read one of the other descriptions and see that, hey, I want to in a year from now, I want to be a little further along, or in 90 days, I want to be a little further along.

And so you can score where you want to be in the future and you can make a few notes to yourself, and then you’ll get that score emailed to you. So you’ll have that and you can work on it. So with that in mind, let’s dive in. Alright, so when we’re talking about collaboration advantage, there are really four ways that I’ve observed that people tend to think about this. And so we’ll start with the first one. And the first is really, I think, a point of frustration.

And the way that I hear it described or the way that I’ve described this mindset is that, you know, when you’ve tried to create mutually beneficial relationships, and I put that in quotes, because you know, in business, everybody talks about creating these mythical, mutually beneficial relationships. And you do that and you feel like you give, give, give, and there’s no reciprocation. And it can be really frustrating. And there was a point in my career where I was doing a ton of networking. I was going to probably eight to 10 hours of networking meetings, whether it was a group meeting, whether it was a coffee date, or a lunch date.

And in all of those, that was the kind of common phrase I heard. I’m really looking forward to creating a mutually beneficial relationship with you. Nobody ever defined what the heck that meant. And what I discovered was that most people didn’t know how, even though they’d say it, they didn’t know how to execute on it and make it actually practical. And I think that’s where you have to get to to kind of make this leap to make these relationships truly beneficial.

And, you know, what I found when I was there doing all that networking, I’d have these coffee dates, I’d make notes, I would be thinking of people that I could connect this new person I’d met with, whether it was another colleague who might be able to help them, or, you know, referring them business or something like that. And, you know, and it just wouldn’t flow back. And it got to be pretty frustrating after a while. And so, I hear that from a lot of people that they’ve tried that stuff, and it just doesn’t work for them. If that’s kind of where you are right now. I think the thing you need to understand is that there is a way to do these.

And part of it is just changing how you look at them. And part of it is putting yourself in a different set of circumstances around creating these relationships. And we’ll get in and kind of cover that. So the second of these mindsets is somebody who’s maybe moved a little further along and you see that others are creating collaborative and cross-promotional relationships, but you’re just not sure how to do it effectively for yourself.

And I, you know, I hear this from folks who, they’re looking and they’re seeing that maybe someone they know built a relationship with someone who had an audience or had a fairly big network. And then that person is promoting them and almost becomes a champion for them. And, you know, they’re sitting there scratching their head thinking, How do I do that? You know, is that just luck?

Luck, or Carrying Out a Plan?

Or is that actually something that I can go and create? And so I think the thing that you want to be thinking about if you’re feeling like you’re in this position where you’re seeing these other relationships around you be created but you’re not quite sure how to do it, the place where you want to start is really thinking about, A who are the people who have the audiences or the networks that I could collaborate with? And then how could I be a value to them? And there are a number of ways that you could be a value to them.

And at one point, I thought, well, I don’t have a very big audience so how am I going to reciprocate? Or why would they want to do it? I’ll be honest with you, the thing that totally turned that around for me, and it’s so simple. The thing that turned that around for me is I started this podcast. And I then had a place to invite people. And I was able to invite people who have much bigger audiences. I was able to invite people who were really business celebrities to come and be a guest on the podcast.

And you know what? They didn’t ask me how many people were in our audience. They didn’t ask me how many listeners or downloads we had. They didn’t do any of that. They didn’t care. Because to them, it was, Hey, I can invest 20 or 30 minutes of my time, and here’s somebody who’s going to promote me. And even if, you know, when we were starting out, we didn’t have a huge reach, it didn’t matter. Because you know what? They got an asset, they did an interview.

And they had me asking questions of them. I was able to, you know, give them the opportunity to really look good. And it wasn’t just about them doing a monologue, it was a conversation back and forth. And they could then take that and share it with their own audience. And that by itself was valuable. But in the process, I got to create these really great relationships. And create relationships with people that I couldn’t otherwise get on the telephone. That if I’d sent them a cold email wanting to connect, I probably never would have gotten a response.

And I’ll be honest with you, that experience, everybody thinks, whoa, you’ve got an audience. You’ve been, you know, marketing on the internet for a long time. That’s just because you have some advantage. And we didn’t have any advantage. And we’ve seen this play out with our clients who have started their own podcast and we’re helping them produce the podcast. And we had one client do cold outreach to Tony Horton. So if you don’t know Tony Horton, he’s the inventor of P90x, the fitness program.

If you’ve been up early on a Saturday morning eating your Frosted Flakes and your doughnuts, he’s the guy that’s making you feel guilty about it. And he’s a bit of a business celebrity. We had a client who reached out to him cold, and within just a few hours, got a response back from somebody on his team saying, Yeah, he’d love to do the interview. And they worked out the time. This was a podcast that he was being invited to that hadn’t launched yet. There was no audience. Zero. And he knew that coming on.

So, you know, just, I think the thing you got to understand is that you can create a lot of these relationships pretty easily, but it helps to have someplace where you can invite them that has some inherent value in it. Where they look at it and they go, oh, yeah. I’d love to go promote myself that, I can use that recording myself. It’ll get shared with people, it’ll live on the internet for a long time. So people will discover it, you know, a year from now, two years from now, three years from now.

And so it’s relatively easy to start those relationships. And they don’t have to be with big names like Tony Horton or people, you know, like that. It could just be with the movers and shakers in your own community. You know, if you’ve got a local business and you really want to create a great collaborative and cross-promotional relationships just with the people who have influence in your community, there’s no better way to do it then by initiating that relationship through an invitation to your podcast.

And so that’s one of the ways you can sort of start to create your own luck with this. You don’t have to look around at all of these other people who are creating these relationships and are getting promoted, you can go out and do it and you can do it proactively and kind of be in control of that. But you’ve got to start looking at, well, how can I come in and add value to them as a starting point for the relationship and get into conversation?

And what I have found is that, you know, as I interview people, we build rapport really quickly. Much more quickly than I, you know, I could spend several hours with someone on successive lunch meetings and we wouldn’t build nearly the rapport that we build when we do a 30 or 40 minute interview because I’ve got that person talking all about themselves and doing it in a public way.

And they’re sort of, they’ve shown up to perform. And so I get kind of their best self in that. And it’s just really fascinating to watch. And this is something that I didn’t expect when we started doing this. But it’s been a lot of fun to watch for the last three years, as, you know, to see how that works. Now, once you’ve created those relationships, then all kinds of other opportunities to extend them come on.

So I’ve Established Rapport. Now What?

You know, it’s not just about Well, how can I make this into something in the next 30 days. The mindset that I take into these, and we’ll talk about that as we get into the fourth of these ways of thinking about it, but the mindset that I take into all of these is, I want to connect with someone and determine if they’re going to play ball. Can we collaborate, you know, if I approach and I give them, you know, an opportunity like to be on the podcast? And do they begin to show signs of wanting to collaborate further?

And I’ve got ten year kind of vision for each of those relationships. When I come into one, I’m saying, okay, is this somebody that I could collaborate with over the next 10 years and we could together find creative ways to help each other? And the reason that I take that approach to it is that these relationships are sort of the gift that keeps on giving. So everybody, you know, because Google goes through and adjusts their algorithm and there’s a Google slap and, you know, your rankings drop or whatever on your website. And if that’s where you’re getting most of your traffic, that’s a big problem.

You know, Facebook ads are great, you know, we use them for certain things, when appropriate. Nothing wrong with that. But they can be hard to make work. And people can, you know, Facebook can come in and shut your account down. You know, you can go kind of all along the list of what’s sort of hot and trendy. And in all of those things, someone can take them away from you. They can take that source of leads away from you and do it fairly arbitrarily.

And so nothing wrong with using it but you also want to have some sources that you can control and that don’t have those sorts of limitations. And that’s sort of the way I look at these collaborations is that I’m in control of building these relationships. And I don’t control what the other person will do, but I do control the fact that I have a system to build them. And I’m building lots of them, you know, in a year. And those things kind of grow and expand over time.

You know, you don’t know where they’re gonna go. Do they all pan out amazingly? No. Of course not. It’s like any other set of human relationships, some are better than others. That’s okay. But some of them are phenomenal. And so I just think there’s no better foundation to begin building your business on then these relationships. And I look at it as sort of, like, you know, collecting these great little assets. And not only do, you know, I see them as a business asset, I see them as a personal asset.

These people become friends. You know, I know their families interested in what’s going on in their lives and so I get benefit in a lot of different ways from it. So, you know, but if you’re in this situation where you’re seeing other people get these opportunities and you’re not figuring out how to do that, one of the easiest ways to get going is start a podcast and start inviting people and start doing interviews. And you’ll see that begin to turn really quickly. Alright, so let’s go on to the third mindset here.

The third mindset is that you have a small and stable network of business owners who send you business when they feel it’s appropriate. And I see this a lot with people who’ve been in business for a long time. They’ve built up kind of their little group. And within that group, business gets referred around. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all. A lot of times what I see with folks like that is they’ve kind of built those relationships and they don’t spend a lot of time kind of growing their collaborative network.

And again, you know, you might be at a stage of business where, you know, you’re not looking to grow that. Totally fine. You know, and we see that in a lot of businesses, particularly in mature businesses where the owner kind of has acknowledged Hey, I’m, you know, I’ve gotten this thing to a point, I’m pretty comfortable and, you know, I’m going to kind of ride it out. Alright, that brings us to the fourth mindset. And this is really the growth mindset here.

And this is where you multiply business results by creating collaborative relationships and finding opportunities to cross promote with like-minded entrepreneurs, and you’ve got a system to do it. And so back to what I was talking about with the way that we approach these relationships that I’m able to build through the podcast, we’re then looking for ways beyond that where we can add value to the people in their network, where we can creatively come in and have them add value to the people in our network.

And so I’ll tell you a little story about how this has worked in our business recently. And if you’ve been in our world for a month or two at the time that this episode is published, then you might have actually witnessed this go on. So last year, I did an interview on a podcast with the two ladies that run it Elite Online Publishing, Melanie Johnson and Jen Foster. And we really hit it off. We, you know, we felt like there was a lot of synergy in what we were doing but we weren’t competitive.

And, you know, and just we had a good time in the conversation. And so I invited them to come back and be guests on the Unstoppable CEO Podcast. So you may go back and listen to that episode. They talk about how to use a book effectively in your business. And, you know, their philosophy is very much aligned with our philosophy, but they do something, you know, even though we create books for our clients, they sort of create your thought leader book where we tend to create lead generation books.

Different purpose. You know, and they have a process to, you know, get you to bestseller status and all of that if that’s what you’re looking to do. So, you know, it’s almost as though with a lot of our clients, they were for somebody who’d come in, you know, built their podcasts, began to build their collaboration network, had maybe a lead generation book that we helped them with but then wanted to graduate and take that out to, you know, to a bigger book that had a bigger impact.

And so it just was a really great, you know, a great kind of linkage of what their business does and what we do. So that was kind of the first clue that, to me, that, okay, we’ve got something here. And then, of course, in the two podcast interviews, that allowed us a really easy and no risk way to practice some collaboration. You know, let’s see how this works.

An Echo Chamber of Collaboration

So I come on their podcast, it works pretty well, they promote that, I go and promote it so they can see that I’m, you know, I’m willing to promote it to, you know, to the folks that are in our world. We reverse that and deepen the relationship a little bit. And they do the same. They, you know, they come on and they promote our podcast to their audience. All that’s great. We’re making progress, right? We’re working our way towards it. So the end of the interview, when they were on our podcast, I said, Look, this has been really fun. What we do is so well aligned. I really, I think we’re, you know, marketing to the same people.

And I think we could really help a lot of people if we figured out a way to kind of team up and periodically, you know, share your wisdom with our audience and share my wisdom with your audience. What do you say? And so they were open to it, which is fantastic. It was great. So we started batting around ideas. And what we came up with was putting on an online seminar. I don’t even really call it a webinar because most of the webinars you see out there, they’re 45 minutes plus a pitch. And I said, you know, I’m not really that interested in doing that. I think we should do something that’s a little more interesting than that.

And I said, What if we did kind of a joint webinar where I can talk for about 45 minutes or an hour and cover how we use a podcast to really build a collaboration team that will help you promote your book, both at the launch and for the long-term. And then you guys can talk about how you work with people to create the right book so that it’s conveying the right message and it’s attracting the right people. Because if you don’t have those two things together, you’re gonna fail with your book. And so they thought it was great idea.

And took us a little while to get it all scheduled and all of that, but by the time you hear this, the webinar will have happened or the online seminar will have happened. And it hasn’t happened yet, as I record it, but and I don’t know, I don’t know how it will turn out but all I know is it’s another opportunity for us to collaborate. And at this stage, I’m not as concerned about the business results that occur over the next 30, 60 or 90 days as I am in cultivating a relationship with someone who over the next 10 years will, you know, will continue to find creative ways to share each other, you know?

And so as we keep doing this over time and we keep coming back and having conversations and finding ways to do that, you begin to really multiply results. Now, when you combine that with a podcast where you’re able to create these relationships really, really easily, you know, and you’re constantly creating them. This is like a compounding thing in your business. And you combine it with something like a book, whether you do a lead generation book like we help folks with, or if you do, you know, more of a thought leader book like Melanie and Jen help folks with.

Now you’ve got a tool that’s super easy for these collaboration partners to come and share. And so another example of that here just recently was able to go to a colleague. I’ve been on his podcast, he’d been on ours and said, I’ve got a new book out. Would you be willing to share it with your audience? And he said, Yeah, it’d be great. So he sent two emails to his audience and magically, you know, we ended up with 300 and I think 96 leads over the course about four or five days. That’s huge, you know? That’s a huge number.

I mean, each of those people is very valuable to us over, you know, the next 60, 90, you know, 180, 365, you know, 730 days. They’re going to be really, really valuable to us. And so that’s the way you’ve got to begin thinking about it. And what I’ve noticed with all of these mindsets is that the mental shift happens before the results. And the thing that I want to leave you with today is focus on the mindset shift. Get your thinking going where you want to be. Use the scorecard to help you visualize what that shift is and then go get to work and begin building these relationships.

And it’ll do magical things for your business. Really, really well. And it’s something that no one else can really take away from you. You know, you can build these relationships, you’re very much in control of them and they compound in value over time, both for you and for the other partner. And so get out there and collaborate. So if you have not gone and gotten your growth score, go to and fill out the scorecard, get your score and get to work on putting these things into practice in your business. And until next time, I’m Steve Gordon. Stay unstoppable.

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