Traditionally, when people connect to form any kind of partnership, they usually ask two questions.

  1. What’s in it for you?
  2. What’s in it for me?

Sometimes they answer both of these questions, sometimes only one of them.

The issue with building a partnership only on these two questions is that it’s often based on short term thinking and there has to be an equal exchange of immediate, tangible value in order for the partnership to work.

But what if the amount of tangible value is not equal from the beginning? What if you have an audience of 300 people and your potential partner has an audience of 5000 people?

If the tangible value each party can provide is not equal from the beginning, it makes it harder to justify a partnership by just asking the two questions above.

In such a case, we need to ask a third question.


What’s in it for the greater good?

By asking that question in addition to the others, there is more leverage to draw from because now it’s not just about you and me but it’s about the greater good.

I recently shared this example from one of my friends who hosted his first convention in 2015 with 100 people, where he had some of the most successful speakers in his field speak at the event. Now, he did not have any fancy perks to offer them and compared to the events they usually speak at, 100 people was relatively small.

However, they all agreed to speak at his convention at no charge and even promote the event to their audience.

If he had tried to build that partnership just by asking the two initial questions, it would have been almost impossible to justify this. However, he asked the much more important question. What’s in it for the greater good?

Well, in his case, personal development and life design was not a very well known topic in Switzerland yet. So the greater good was to spread the message of life design from the inside out into a country that was not yet fully developed in this area.

Doing it for the greater good, combined with the benefits for the speakers, like exposure, a fun trip to Europe, meeting the other speakers, it was a big enough reason for all of them to fly into Zurich.

However, there was more to it than just these three questions. The people who agreed had all certain things in common.


The 2% Rule

Maybe you are familiar with the concept of diffusion of innovation. It divides a market into five categories. Innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards.

Now, these categories not only apply markets of customers but also to markets of partners and any other markets.

For the sake of simplicity, we will divide it into three categories. 2%, 48% and 50%.

The 50% are those people who don’t get what you are doing. They may get it at some point but for now, what you are doing seems unreasonable, crazy even and they don’t want to hear about it.

The 48% sometimes understand what you are up to. Some even encourage you and offer their support but many are afraid because what you are doing still seems not proven enough.

The 2% are your raving fans, even if they don’t know about you yet. They are not only excited about what you are up to but also resonate with you on a deeper level.

Now, when it comes to identifying potential partners, you could say “Anyone who serves a similar audience and is not directly competing with me is a potential partner” and you may be right. Theoretically.

However, are all of them ideal partners?

If all your potential partners represent 100% of the market, then you ideal partners are those 2% we talked about before, for three simple reasons.

  1. You share common values.
  2. You share a common vision and mission.
  3. You serve the same audience with complimentary products or services.

Most people only think about the third point and focus their partnership building efforts only on this. However, if values, vision and mission are not aligned, nothing else matters.


Persuading vs. Inspiring

When reaching out to potential partners, people often ask themselves the wrong questions like “How can I make my message so compelling that the other person just can’t say no?”.

If you are trying to persuade people to partner with you, the entire partnership is built on persuasion and you constantly have to put in effort to keep it together.

What if you were to inspire them to partner with you?

Well, if you’ve done a good job with focusing on your 2% and asked “What’s in it for the greater good?”, you have created the perfect conditions to make connections from a place of inspiration. You no longer need to ask the persuasive question from above. You can make your initial connection by asking three simple questions.

  1. What inspires me about this person?
  2. Why does that inspire me?
  3. What do I want the next step to be?

By answering these simple questions, you can create very powerful initial messages that come from a place of inspiration and not desperation. You are not delivering a sales pitch. Instead you are genuinely acknowledging them.

Also, by connecting with people from a place of inspiration, you stand out.

Somewhere between 60-80 people connect with me on LinkedIn every single week. 98% of them use the standard connection request message.

Imagine how much you stand out when crafting a message based on the three questions above.


Building Authentic Partnerships

The topics I laid out above are some of the key cornerstones in my upcoming online training program on building Authentic Partnerships. It’s all about authentically connecting with key partners in your field to grow your impact.

Doors will open on Tuesday, 26th April 2016 and you can sign up for the notification list here and download the 23 Mental Triggers That Make Busy People Say YES.


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