A world of untapped business opportunity is waiting online
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Henry Ford
There is a world of untapped business opportunity waiting to be discovered online.
It’s something I alluded to last week, but let’s extend that conversation by discussing how to go about building productive virtual partnerships.
For the purposes of this discussion a virtual business collaboration is one in which none of the parties involved have met physically and, due to distance and circumstances, it is unlikely that they ever will.
In many instances these collaborators will be building a business solution that will only exist in cyber space, although it is possible to use a virtual collaboration to create something that will exist both virtually and physically.
The key thing that everyone needs to appreciate about virtual business relationships is that both the rules of engagement and what it will take to keep the collaboration going, are different from traditional business partnerships because of their highly entrepreneurial nature and business structure.
To start with, an initial (or exploratory) virtual business collaboration conversation is not just sales pitch in that who you know or the resources that you can draw upon, may be of much more value to the people you are considering working with than anything you (or your company) are presently doing.
Never lose sight of the fact that the entrepreneurial world is all about creating new things.
It is critical that you do your homework. Take the time to fully research the individual people that you are meeting and the company that they represent. Make every effort to understand what they do and the projects that they are involved in and think about how they might benefit from a relationship with you.
Yes, you are seeking them out because you want their help but why is it in their best interest to work with you?
In short – in a world where they can partner with anyone, why you?
And here’s where things get a little bit tricky because even though the number one thing you are selling in an initial discussion is yourself, you must manage to make your value to them clear without overselling.
What do I mean by this?
Well, have you ever seen one of those promotional videos with a smarmy fast-talking presenter? Did you find this comfortable to watch? How much would you trust this person? More importantly, would you want to work virtually with someone like this every day?
Of course not.
Conversely, would you want to work virtually with someone who showed up late, lacked confidence, seemed evasive, defensive, unprepared, distracted, monopolised the conversation, or didn’t really listen to you?
So, what should you do?
Believe it or not it’s not that difficult – just begin by being pleasant, natural, and accommodating and wade in slowly. Ask questions that show you have done your research regarding the person you are meeting and ask what sort of partnerships or opportunities they are currently seeking.
Be prepared to give a clear brief summary of what you have been working on. Be honest regarding how things have been going and why you are contacting them and have suggestions ready regarding what you might collaborate on.
If the conversation goes well, don’t expect to get everything worked out in one meeting – simply look for common ground and suggest a follow up chat to discuss this in more detail.
Equally, don’t rush into big agreements before you are sure you know who you are dealing with, or without considering whether the relationship you are contemplating is sustainable.
At every step of the journey, make sure that your expectations are realistic.
It takes time to build viable virtual business partnerships and things don’t always work out quite the way you were expecting so it’s essential to keep an open mind and be flexible.
And on the occasions that things don’t work out, rather than getting discouraged, ask yourself what you have learnt from the experience and how you can use what you have learnt to be more successful the next time.
Robin Trimingham is the chief operating officer of The Olderhood Group Ltd and a virtual presenter, journalist, podcaster and thought leader in the fields of life transition and change management. Connect with Robin at https://bit.ly/3nSMlvc or email@example.com