Finding the right collaboration partners is essential for any business owner, and Melanie and I have some great tips and advice on how to go about it. One of the most important things you can do for your business is to make sure that you are dealing with the right people.
By taking the time to find the right partners, you’ll be able to avoid a lot of problems down the road. The wrong collaboration partners can drain your time, money, and energy, so it’s important to be choosy.
This episode is being re-aired from a hot conversation we recorded for the #NextLevelInfluence show that I co-host with Melanie Benson. We talk about sharks, dolphins, and how to vet a potential strategic partner before you say yes.
IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL DISCOVER:
- How to choose the best strategic partners (00:46)
- Warning signs that you’re dealing with a “shark” (03:29)
- Ways to know that you have found the right collaborative partner (13:09)
- How to make collaborative partnerships a win-win (16:15)
- Tips for knowing if the partnership has the best chance of success (19:04)
- Why do “sharks” tend to not do their part? (23:05)
- “If you don’t pick the right partners, you will end up with a lot of challenges.” -Samantha Riley
- “Dolphins like to swim and play together, but a shark is going to eat you.” -Melanie Benson
- “Collaborations are a two-way street, so they must have energy coming from both sides.” -Samantha Riley
WHERE TO FIND MELANIE BENSON
- Website: https://melaniebenson.com/
- Twitter: Melanie Benson
- Facebook: Melanie Benson
- Instagram: Melanie Benson
- LinkedIn: Melanie Benson
This episode is sponsored by Your Podcast Concierge. Affordable podcast production for coaches and speakers who want to increase their authority and generate leads from their show. You press record, and let them do the rest.
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Samantha Riley 00:03
We often talk about strategic partners and how it’s such a powerful strategy to grow your business. But if you don’t pick the right partners, then you could end up with a lot of challenges. Stay tuned, because we’re going to unpack strategic partnerships, and how to create partnerships that are aligned with your growth outcomes that you’re wanting to achieve in your business. Welcome to the next level influence show. I’m Samantha Riley, host of the influence by design podcast.
Melanie Benson 00:30
And I’m Melanie Benson, host of the amplify your success podcast. This is our bi weekly show for experts and business leaders who are influencing people’s decisions to make a greater impact and shatter their revenue goals in the process. Now, if you live in the United States, and maybe if you live outside the US, you’ve heard this as well, you may have heard reference in business to playing with dolphins versus swimming with sharks. And as we were talking about this idea of how do you pick strategic partners that are really going to lift you up and help you expand the reach of your business and, of course, help you attract more great clients. This metaphor was really sticking in my head, my pitch is getting probably a little annoying with it, Sam was and I had all kinds of dolphin and shark metaphors.
Samantha Riley 01:20
So I was quite happy to play along.
Melanie Benson 01:22
I will just roll with it. But you know, if you’re not familiar with this metaphor, it’s probably starting to make sense already. The idea is that dolphins like to swim and play together. But a shark is going to eat you. And it’s going to be painful. So, you know, Sam, like when it comes to strategic partners? I think you and I have, we’ve had enough chats about this, that we’re really on the same page?
Samantha Riley 01:46
Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that it’s really important to understand, and this is what I really want people to take from this episode is to understand that partnerships are such a powerful way to grow your business. But if you get them wrong, they can be, they can be a really big challenge, I guess they can really make things very, very hard. So it’s not quite as easy as some people are talking about. So we want to, you know, open up this conversation so that you can, I guess spot the spot, the red flags, and more open to swimming with the dolphins and having fun.
Melanie Benson 02:28
Yeah, and I think just as a baseline, I mean, I think this is probably obvious to most of us. But this is about a values alignment, right. And I because I’ve we’ve both been in business so long now, like, there are times when people upfront appear to be dolphins, they kind of know the language, they know how to how to like, present in that way. But very quickly, you realize, wow, shark in a dolphin costume.
Samantha Riley 03:04
Before we started recording, I was like, that’s exactly what it is like it’s the shark that’s in the dolphin costume.
Melanie Benson 03:13
I’ve got crazy images of the bachelor one time when the girl was wearing a dolphin costume. Anyway. So let’s dig into this. Sam, let’s talk about some warning signs. Now, I want to go into this with the framework of knowing that this is not a stop sign. This is a caution sign right, you had to make your own decision about the right people for you to work with. However, I think most people, you and I attract Sam and are in our inner circle. And in our sphere. They’re more dolphin. And so there are some warning signs that we’ve cultivated over the years. So that if something’s feeling off, it probably is off and it it may quickly become the you know, put put the car and break we’re gonna get off, get off the ride here. And this is the end of the road. So what’s the first warning sign you want to share?
Samantha Riley 04:08
So for me, one of the very biggest warning signs is when someone reaches out to with an idea to collaborate, but they’ve got a lot of requests. So they they come in with within five minutes of the conversation. They’re saying I would like this, I would like this, I’d like this. I would like this. But there’s never anything reciprocated. And that to me is one of the biggest red flags. Hmm, yeah.
Melanie Benson 04:34
Yeah, I’ve had a few of those. Kind of a sister to that one. I’m going to jump ahead here on my list because this I think is a real segue is they if they ask you to promote something for them, and there are a lot of hoops and a lot of requirements and often the beginning of the of the request has very little loose, you know, clarity. And they’re like, you go into it without a lot of clarity on the expectations. And then by the end, you’re like, oh my gosh, I’m exhausted. This is so much work. And I found that that oftentimes, is a sign now for me like, this doesn’t feel good to partner with this person. And it’s been very stressful for me.
Samantha Riley 05:21
Totally, totally. And all of these, I think, are piggybacking off each other. Because this goes to what you were just talking about what I was just talking about, but people that want to move really, really fast. And they have a big ask straight out of the gate. I find this, again, like you said, this isn’t a stop, and I’m getting out. But it’s a red flag. That means that if there’s a big ask, I need to kind of dig a little bit deeper. Like, how is this going to play out so that I know whether I, as you said, pull on the handbrake and get out? Or maybe just like, take a step back and say, Okay, well, maybe I’m not ready for this big ask right at the beginning.
Melanie Benson 06:07
Yeah, which I think when you’re swimming with dolphins, that makes sense. But with the sharks, they’re often offended, right? And they kind of get a little like, well, you know, this is what I do. Which is just kind of bro energy flowing through me in that moment.
Samantha Riley 06:22
Totally. And that’s exactly what I picked up. That’s exactly what I picked up. And then that if that is the energy that comes out, after you’ve put the put the brakes on and slowed down, then at that point that for me is okay, now I’m getting out.
Melanie Benson 06:38
Yeah, because the interest just stops. It’s like there’s nothing else they want to explore. Yeah. And I guess that kind of ties in to this next warning sign for me is, sometimes I’m like, Okay, there’s something here I’m interested in like, I’m finding some, some openness, right? I do a little energy check. Like, this is expansive to me. Do I like the idea? Is it feel good? Or am I just getting to know? And sometimes I’m getting it? Yeah, there’s something here. And then all of a sudden, when you you’re kind of in the middle of moving through it, there’s no follow through from them. They don’t ever schedule on their end, the podcast swap, or they never, they never follow through on your request to promote them, or there’s just, there’s, it’s not like a win win. It’s just like, well, I need you to do this for me. And there’s no for anything in return.
Samantha Riley 07:31
Totally. What we need to really remember here is we’re talking about collaborations. They’re a two way street. So they must have energy coming from both sides. And it doesn’t necessarily and it often doesn’t happen at the same time. Because if I’m doing a launch that’s at a completely different time of the year to you, Melanie, then they they’re not going to swap over at exactly the same time. However, there needs to be some sort of we’re both coming to the table and doing something. Does that make sense?
Melanie Benson 08:02
Yeah, totally. It’s like, I think we all go into it, knowing that it’s never going to be even, but it’s going to feel good, because everybody’s gonna say how can I show up and support? Right? Mm hmm.
Samantha Riley 08:16
Absolutely. And we’re going to go into that a little bit more and in a moment, because we before we started recording, you and I had a really big conversation about that,
Melanie Benson 08:25
basically create the episode in our mind. Oh, that’s so good. Let’s get on a record now. Absolutely.
Samantha Riley 08:34
I think for me to sort of going further on is, they just sharks just aren’t fun to work with. I feel really, you know, when it’s time to get on a zoom call, or it’s time to do something, it just it it has this energy that’s quite abrasive. It doesn’t flow. It feels like a lot of work. And at the end of the promo, you can’t wait for it to end. As opposed to when I’ve done promos for the dolphins that I enjoy to play with. It’s like, ah, the promos ended I actually really enjoyed that there was a lot of fun through the through the process.
Melanie Benson 09:15
I just thought of one more. And it kind of ties into this. Having that initial conversation with somebody, right. And what I’ve noticed is when people turn out to be more of a shark than a dolphin, there’s this I’m literally sitting here having a conversation and it’s almost like they’re checking all of the boxes in their mind or literally checking boxes on a little checklist. And all of a sudden it’s like becomes a I’m being analyzed and assessed versus we’re just having a human conversation to get to know each other. Have you ever had one of those where you’re like oh my god, they’re literally falling a check checkbox list right now.
Samantha Riley 09:57
said that because as you were saying thinking that what came back into my mind was the time that I was on with a potential collaboration partner. And they were sharing the screen and all of a sudden, this person starts asking questions and filling out the checkboxes. And all of a sudden, it just killed the energy because all of a sudden, I felt like I was sitting outside the principal’s office being asked questions about what I was, what I done, and what I was going to do. And you know, will I repent my sins kind of thing? It felt very weird.
Melanie Benson 10:33
Yeah. And part of that checklist is usually well, how many people do have on your list? And how many, like, what’s your conversion level, and there’s a lot of really like, heavy stuff that’s getting discussed. Now, let me just say, all of that is really important information. It tells you how well you’ll sync up as partners, right? And like, if you’re in a more of official launch type stuff, it’s helpful information for someone to know what is someone able to contribute? But in that, in that very stiff, like, I’m running through my get to know you checklists to evaluate you, and you’re asking these tough questions that that energy starts to feel like, oh, my gosh, this is gonna kind of be a lot of fun. Right? So it’s just, it’s just a business transaction versus a human relationship.
Samantha Riley 11:21
Can I ask you, Melanie, because I read that. So really, really important information? Is that something that you personally ask people the very first time you meet them?
Melanie Benson 11:31
Oh, gosh, no, no. Yeah. No, like, again, like, I think this distinction is really powerful that we’re tapping into is, you know, when I’m swimming with dolphins, which I think this is a perfect segue, right? When I’m swimming with dolphins, I, I want to get to know them. I’m curious and exploring who they are and what they’re about. And if there’s some natural thing that emerges that feels like a good fit. Awesome. But if somebody’s going in with a checklist, it’s almost like, am I going to be one of the many people promoting them? There’s, it just has a different ring and a different tone to it. So it feels more Sharky to me than dolphin. That’s the best distinction I have highlighted. And
Samantha Riley 12:11
I just wanted to cover that because I knew what your answer would be. But the and I wanted to ask that because the the example that I just gave that was within the first five minutes of our conversation. So that was my red flag, because it’s like, hang on a minute, we don’t even know who each other are yet. Like, I wasn’t even sure what this person did. So I wanted to really get that distinction that yes, that is important information. But that happens after the relationship is created.
Melanie Benson 12:42
Hmm, I’m so glad you brought that one up. Okay, let’s swing to the pool that we like to be in which is swimming with our dolphin friends, right?
Samantha Riley 12:52
Like this is fun ease.
Melanie Benson 12:55
Yeah. And again, like you may not even know is someone more of a shark or a dolphin. And sometimes in the GET TO KNOW YOU phase, it’s so hard to suss all that out. But like, what are some of the signs somebody’s more of a dolphin than a shark? Hmm.
Samantha Riley 13:09
For me, they make it really easy to support them. So they don’t make it difficult for me to understand what’s happening. What do I need to do? That I don’t need to spend a whole day trying to get my head around it. It’s just this, you know, they it’s like, they support me to support them?
Melanie Benson 13:34
Yeah, they make it easy. Yeah. And that’s assuming that at that point, you agreed to support them. The all the I was sharing example, I think where this is emerging from, for me is a shining example of somebody who is a huge name, and I love supporting him when he does his launches, because he’s such a joy. He’s so kind. He’s such a human being. He has boundaries, like he can support everything, and he’s really clear about it. But he makes it so easy to support the things that he’s launching. And when he’s, you know, it’s like they plan way in advance and, and they’re always right. It’s like, well, how can we support you and they get it on the calendar and follow through. It’s like such an amazing experience to partner up with. Absolutely. Yeah, everybody’s gonna be like, well, who isn’t? Melanie? I’m not naming names today.
Samantha Riley 14:24
We do not talk about who we support. No,
Melanie Benson 14:27
no, we’re not going to name names. So speaking of that, this idea of slow momentum comes to me about dolphins and I’m a I’m a I like to date before I get married. You know, like did that with my husband? It worked out well. Right. But I think when you build the when you when you like connect and like let’s see what happens, you’re willing to build slowly, maybe take some micro steps towards towards a bigger opportunity. What I think Great things happen is first of all, you start to figure out how do each other operate? Do they follow through? Do they? You know, Is there good energy between us? Does that energy keep growing? And also like, Is there stuff, all the stuff that I want to be putting in front of my community that I worked really hard to build trust and rapport? And, and I don’t want to take that lightly. So I like building slowly, oftentimes, I’ll say to people, all right, so I’m open. But you know, let’s, let’s kind of take it slowly. And we’ll talk about some some ways you can test drive a partner in a minute.
Samantha Riley 15:35
Yeah, totally, totally. Because I think that’s really important. One of the really important parts for me around knowing that I’m swimming with dolphins, and I know that you’re 100% agree with this, Melanie? Is someone leading with how can we make this a win win? And it’s that you as soon as someone leads with how can I support you? How can we do this, so that when this is a win, win, I know that this is this is the green flag to Okay, let’s explore this further.
Melanie Benson 16:08
Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up. The Win Win is always at the front, even if you don’t know what it looks like, you know, the intention is there.
Samantha Riley 16:15
And I think he don’t know what it looks like at the beginning. And I think that that’s really important as well, is that we don’t know what it looks like. But it’s just that intention of let’s, you know, how can we make this a win win? And now let’s open up the conversation. Let’s explore this. Because when we’re talking about collaborations, they don’t happen in one phone call that I really want to make that clear. This isn’t a how can we make this a win win? Okay, let’s do this. This is where we’re building a relationship. It takes a while there’s many steps to this. So what we’re talking here is, this is just the starting point.
Melanie Benson 16:50
Yeah, I agree. All in this section by saying the probably the single most important criteria for me, and the factor that gets me to be proactive, versus just kind of taking a step back and seeing where things fall into place is like, how does it make me feel? How does the interaction with that person make me feel? Does it make me feel excited? Do they make me feel like a human being? Do they make me feel valuable? Are they nurturing the relationship? Or do they just like, do you just only hear from them when they want you to promote something? I said this earlier, I’ll say it again. And you and I’ve shared this many times, I want to feel cared for as a human being not used as a business transaction.
Samantha Riley 17:37
Absolutely 100%. And I know that if I’m with a partner, and I just give you an example, I’ve got a partner doing a launch, we all know that launches take a lot of energy, I will be the first person in the launch with one of my partners to reach out say, hey, what you’re doing is, you know, you’re on fire today, I love the energy in whatever it was that you’re creating. And also on the other side, I’ll reach out, say, at different times, how you doing? I know that you’re just putting everything into it? How are you? Like, really? How are you feeling? Are you tired? You know, do you need to get on a call, you know, whatever it is, I’m seeing the person behind what is happening. And that, to me is the most important thing.
Melanie Benson 18:19
So glad you said that, because it’s true. And you’ve actually done that with me when I was like in the thick of it. And I was like, Oh, I love her. It’s a little things like that I can tell you 100 stories of people who just they just showed up and said, What do you need? How can I be support? Today, I’m thinking about you sending a little something, because, you know, I happen to catch that I was having a bad run of it on something. And it’s just those are the things. And even this is something really important. Even your greatest competitors. People you do the exact same thing with can be your collaboration partners and your dolphins. Because there’s a human relationship. That’s not it’s not just a business transaction.
Samantha Riley 19:04
Mm hmm. Absolutely. So let’s talk about how we test drive our strategic partners or our collaboration partners. What’s the first step actually? Oh, I’ll share the first thing because I know that that you and I do the same thing. And then you’ve got something to add to that, that both of us invite people that have shown an interest in collaborating, we will invite someone to be a guest on our podcast. For me, this is always my first step because then I get to see how easy is it to even book this guest? How easy is it to go through the process? Are they giving us the requirements that we’ve asked for? Are they sending it through? Or do we need to chase up with them? When they’re on the show? We get to learn what they do in depth rather than, you know, sometimes a quick coffee chat. You can be like I still don’t understand what this person does. And and essentially at the end of this, we get a really good feel, which is what you were talking about before Melanie, we get a really good feel, are our values in alignment? Do I get really good energy from this person? So I know that that is a first step for both of us.
Melanie Benson 20:18
You know, I actually do one more thing with my podcasts. I pretty sure you do this, too, but maybe it wasn’t at the front of your mind. I actually pay attention to do they share the
Samantha Riley 20:29
episode? Uh huh. Yes.
Melanie Benson 20:31
You know, we’re I running through my list of sharks versus dolphins. All of the people I would put on the shark side, never shared their episode. And some of those surprised now once in a while, people just slip up, right? And that happens, but more times than not, I was like, Oh, okay. I see. Yeah. And it’s just, you know, it’s another one of the warning signs. So that’s another way I determined like, Is there good energy or not? So good energy here? Her thanks. I love that. You know, a lot of times people start these conversations, and they open these doors through scheduling what’s commonly called the coffee chat, you know, just like a quick chat to get to know people. And I love those. And I’ll be paying attention to those conversations and say, Is there good energies or something there, we want to keep exploring, that might be where the podcast invitation comes from. But then what I’ll sometimes do, especially if I’m on the fence, Sam, and I’m like, I can’t get a read on this. Like, I don’t really know how I feel about it. Or they have something great, but I’m getting that little niggly feeling. I won’t follow up right away. And I’ll see if they do. And I just kind of let them take the lead a little bit to see how do they navigate the opportunity? And are they moving forward? And is it feeling like they’re trying to get both things up? Or am I feeling that like, Hey, get me booked on your show, but there’s no real reciprocity? Definitely something that I pay attention to?
Samantha Riley 21:58
Totally, totally. So once I have had some on my podcast, or I’ve done that simple coffee chat. I like to start slow. It’s not straight into we’re doing a huge launch. It’s, let’s do a simple promo swap and see how this plays out. Because actions speak louder than words, don’t they?
Melanie Benson 22:22
But it also gives you early, so it gives me a little bit of a read on. All right, so are they trying to contribute equally and make sure everybody’s winning? Like I’ve been in situations where maybe my list didn’t pull as well for somebody that I had hoped? So I’ll say, hey, look like that didn’t land, we’ll do something else, we’ll try something different. Or I’ll say, look, that didn’t go the way I’d hoped for you. How about I bring you on my podcast if I hadn’t already. So I’m always trying to figure out like how to make it feel good to the other person. And so I like that in exchange.
Samantha Riley 22:55
Totally, totally. Yeah, yeah. And there’s a there’s a fourth thing, I’d love you to dive into this to start with?
Melanie Benson 23:05
Well, this is something that is pretty common in a lot of circles is people start to form these kind of support groups for social media, because we all know how hard it is to get social media needle moving. And a lot of times people will say, hey, like, can we just comment on each other’s Facebook pages? Or our posts, pages, posts on our pages? Or if we’re an Instagram like, Hey, do you want to, like just kind of be there to when post goes up, just give it some love and help with the algorithms, right? And so I’m in a couple of these groups. And one of the things that I’ve noticed is the sharks tend to not do their part. They have no problem saying, Hey, can you promote my post or support my post or Share my posts or whatever, but they never do it for yours? And I’m like, Okay, I see how that rolls, you know? And so, I like to think of it as like, how do they operate in their natural habitat? You know, like, are they a full participant and they show up and do 100%? Or do they kind of like, see how much they can take before the thing starts to break down a little bit. And I know some people just get busy. And some people that’s just not a natural skill for them. But that would also be to me ended up in the that’s never going to be good energy for a partnership. So test driving them in that in a more natural experience gives me a sense of how are they going to operate in a bigger partnership with a lot of moving parts?
Samantha Riley 24:37
Absolutely. Absolutely. I think this is such a fabulous conversation. Melanie, I really enjoyed talking about I guess the side that I don’t often hear people talking about, you know, we often hear collaborations are great and they are, but it’s not as simple as Oh, just reach out to someone and you know, and get them to help it’s not that simple. So such a valuable conversation. Now I know you’ve got a free resource, Melanie that I would love you to share to, to help the people that are watching or listening along to be able to, I guess, take their business to the next level.
Melanie Benson 25:15
Thank you, I love showing people seven very easy steps that have repeatedly added another six figures to my business. I’ve been using the same framework since 2003. It’s worked for me over and over and over again, I call it my seven step framework to add another six figures to your business by leveraging other people’s audiences. And guess what, it ties so perfectly in what we covered today. Because, you know, when we’re collaborating and partnering with other people, we are tapping into their audiences. So it’s one of the seven steps I cover, if you had to amplify with melanie.com, you will get free access to that. And what about you, Sam?
Samantha Riley 25:57
perfectly, perfectly perfect. I’ve got a document that I’ve shared a few times before, but this is so relevant, it’s the million dollar plan. Because if you’re not ready to be able to partner with people, and you’re not really sure on what it is that you do, or the different parts of your business that you may be have, you know, glossed over, then it’s very difficult to get partnerships, partnerships set up. So this is the nine key growth areas to create more income influence impact in your business. And you can go to summit the Riley dot global forward slash plan.
Melanie Benson 26:36
I love it. Oh my god, I love it. If you loved it, too. You had an aha today there’s a tip or an insight that was like, Yeah, that was good. We would be so moved and so grateful to share this episode, maybe tag a friend where you’re listening to it or just give us a little shout out in the comments. And let us know what the aha was. If you are not connected with both myself and Sam on this platform, connect with us make sure we’re following each other here. We do this every other week now and we don’t want you to miss out when we go live. Be sure to follow us here. And I just can’t wait to hear what the Insight was from you to from today’s episode for you today.
Samantha Riley 27:20
Absolutely. Thanks so much for joining us for today’s episode. Thank you, Melanie, for joining us.
Melanie Benson 27:25
Samantha Riley 27:26