Col·lab·o·ra·tion noun; the action of working with someone to produce or create something.
In a recent event, Collaboration Over Competition: Leveraging Impactful Relationships for Success, hosted by Luminary and The LSS Group of RBC Wealth Management, Cate Luzio, Founder and CEO of Luminary moderated an open discussion with Beatrice Dixon, Co- Founder and CEO at The Honey Pot Company, Sarah LaFleur, Founder and CEO at M.M. LaFleur, and Jenny Santi, Author, Artist and Founder at Saint Partners Philanthropy Services on their experience with successful networking and how it helped them get to where they are today.
Collaboration is about forming long-lasting partnerships, being intentional with your professional outreach and building genuine connections. The speakers touched on these three focal points that every business owner can use to expand their network and grow their company.
Relationship building is an underrated skill. Prioritizing it while starting a business can feel like another full-time job. But as LaFleur said, without those initial relationships, her business wouldn’t have reached its full potential. Word-of-mouth is one of the best organic marketing strategies for a small business.
LaFleur added, “One kind of distinction between men and women that I’ve seen is that men tend to do deals, together with their friends, whereas I think, women often tend to keep them separate. And this is one barrier I've really been trying to break down as I want to do deals with my girlfriends; I want to support them in their businesses.”
Cate Luzio asked the question: “How do we utilize those connections and collaborate versus having to knock someone over in order to get to where you need to be?”
Dixon said when her company was first starting out and her products were being sold at trade shows, she received an email from a Target buyer looking to sell her product in stores after being exposed to the product through a local hairdresser. She benefited from word-of-mouth because she had put in the work to make those personal connections.
Trusting another person with a contact is like giving them an ingredient to the magic sauce.
Santi said, “There's a fine line between being generous with your contacts and being protected and selected and really intentional about what you do.”
It might not always work out, but as a “super connector,” you hope putting the pieces together creates magic. There may be times that a networking opportunity falls through, but that doesn’t mean you’re to blame. You were just the link that brought the others together.
As Luzio put it, it’s important to be intentional about building relationships and choosing how and who to collaborate with for your own benefit. That’s part of creating trust within networks; knowing who you can bring together and who you can’t.
You are a reflection of your surroundings.
Continuing to network while out of the normal environment can help strengthen those relationships. Instead of only contacting a connection when you need something, check up on them weekly.
“I will every so often need something from someone,” Santi said, “but I don't want it to be the only reason I reach out, so what I like to do is look at my contacts list and see who should I just ping and say hi to.”
Joining communities and groups is also a great resource for connecting with other like-minded people. LaFleur explained how life changing it’s been to be a part of a fellowship group and wanting to make sure others, like her own team, have connections to lean on as well.
Collaboration can have a significant impact on the future of a small business. The connections you make can be life-changing and the business owners who prioritize relationship-building will ultimately see their business flourish as a result.