As an FBI counterintelligence agent, developing good information networks around the foreign spies I pursued was the secret to my success. Those networks became part of my team and they became the heart of every successful investigation when we found our mutual spots of value.
Why is value so important to good teams? It’s the glue that sustains them in good times and saves them in bad times.
My friend Kare Anderson, author of a collaboration blog called How We Partner, says that value is created by finding sweet areas of mutual benefit—the result is a collaboration that is both productive and rewarding. Creating a team that provides these results is a critical skill for managers and leaders because it is essential for a growing business—whether you’re looking for new customers or building the camaraderie of your in-house team.
Collaboration is a process, not an event. It takes time.
Start Mixing Your Glue
You may be looking for ways to build partnership teams with new clients, contacts, or employees. Finding the entry point for collaboration is not always easy, but here are a few steps you can take to create the glue that will bind members of the team you are building:
1. Create value for them
Send articles or notices of events that might be of interest. If you write a blog, send it to them if the topic is relevant, thought provoking, or full of ideas.
I would often scan newspapers and magazines for articles or items that I knew were of interest to a contact. I never expected anything in return—just having them know that I had their best interests at heart went a long way.
2. Watch for reciprocity
It’s not a good idea to create value for others with the express intent of having them return the favor. However, when they do reciprocate value glue is being created. The greater the value, the stronger the glue. The company or individual may not be willing or able to create a product of mutual benefit. If so, they may not be an ideal member for your team.
3. Ask advice
Most people love giving advice—it places them in the role of an expert. Ask your prospective client or partner for their feedback on your ideas and product. But be genuine because they will be suspicious of your motives if you’re not. And if you’re considering collaboration with them, you really do want their input.
4. Test the relationship
It’s easier to create value glue when the risks are lower. Start with smaller projects so all parties can get an idea of how everyone feels about working together. For example, approach a prospect or new client for partnership in a non-profit venture with the idea of looking at how you compliment each other.
5. Bundle services
Offer a discount or special combination of services by bundling your product with that of your prospect. It automatically expands the customer list of both parties.
6. Create a reward system
Find ways to reward the prospect or team members. Sometimes it’s as easy as saying thank you in private or acknowledging them publicly in some way. Glue that is created with sincerity and appreciation for the other party is always stronger than band aids that are used to cover roughed up areas.
Trust is the glue that builds strong teams.
The most successful way of creating value with other parties is finding ways of collaborating that bring mutual benefit to everyone.
What does your ideal team look like? How can you create value for your team or prospects? How would you go about testing a collaborative relationship? What tips can you share about collaborating with others?
LaRae Quy is former FBI Agent and Founder at Your Best Adventure
She helps clients explore the unknown and discover the hidden truth in self & others
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Filed under: Leadership Assessments, Leadership vs. Management, Leading & Developing Other Leaders, Leading Change Tagged: | build partnerships, Collaboration, Collaboratory, information networks, leadership, Leadership Development, mutual benefit, reciprocity, team building, team building leadership, value