How to “Zoom In” and Collaborate With Fellow Entrepreneurs
This article was written by BlogHer and sponsored by Philip Morris International.
The impact of 2020 will be felt for years to come, both personally and professionally. Social distancing orders either led to further isolation from or closer proximity to our loved ones. For those who didn’t lose their jobs, the home also morphed into a makeshift workspace where only the bare essentials could thrive. A new year and approved vaccinations may revive some of the normalcies we loved pre-pandemic but generally speaking, there is so much change on the horizon.
Creators will zoom in to eliminate the pain points of their businesses and simultaneously zoom out to adjust their impact by, for example, collaborating with other entrepreneurs.
“In 2021 it will be about revamping lifestyles and rethinking ambitions. The global period of reflection afforded by the pandemic has given us the time and mental space to consider how we have been living—and whether it’s been worthwhile,” says Marian Salzman, trendspotter and SVP of Global Communications at Philip Morris International, in her highly-anticipated Zoomsday Predictions report.
This collective shift will also mark a return to “we” as we focus on building community instead of merely increasing followers.
“In an era of selfies, personal branding, media bubbles, custom playlists, and entertainment-pods-for-one, COVID-19 has awakened in some of us the first inkling of community in a long while,” Salzman adds. “In 2021, look for more people to reevaluate their social circles, focusing less on proximity and convenience and more on intimacy and below-the-surface connection.”
Collaboration is brimming with benefits. It inspires creativity, forces accountability, and often leads to meaningful relationships. “Collaborating with others has allowed me to grow as a creative. When you’re connected to other passionate human beings that speak your language, magic can happen together and separately,” says The Kachet Life founder Kachet Jackson-Henderson. “You’re also able to put yourself in front of a new audience, which builds your overall brand awareness. But, the energy spills over into your individual business, too.”
For Jenna Urben, founder of The Urben Life, connecting with other creators is the best kind of confidence booster. “Personally, I love being able to share wins and frustrations with other creators who understand the industry,” she says. “Professionally, it’s a brilliant way to network.” The same can be said for Emily King, who elevates female creators and female-founded businesses with her online magazine The C Word Mag. “When you see other brands thriving and doing something well, it motivates you to do more yourself.”
If you want to solidify your commitment to connection, read on for the tactics these three experts swear by.
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Write Down Your Why
The purpose or mission behind your work should permeate through everything you do, including collaborations with other entrepreneurs. In order to align with her core mission of empowering millennial women to live their best lives, Jackson-Henderson starts by considering her ideal client and the best way to support them while developing content.
“Think about why you want to do so in the first place. Write it down. What kind of result will it yield? How will it make you feel? What would you each get out of it? How do you hope it makes them feel?” she suggests. “Then put yourself out there and type that email. Outline who you are, a little about them that intrigued you (everyone appreciates flattery), share your idea and what’s required, if you’re at that stage.”
Don’t Be Shy
Additionally, now is the best time to reach out, especially if you’re an introvert. With in-person events on pause, you can avoid the awkwardness of intros and craft a heartfelt and clear email instead.
According to Jenna Urben, you should also consider the type of collaboration you want. This will often dictate how you initiate outreach, whether it’s through email, a cold call, or social media. “Facebook groups are an incredible way to connect! For giveaways, I tend to partner with creators who are in the same niche as me, which I feel confident introducing to my audience. Oftentimes, I’ll simply message a few creators and see if they’re interested in collaborating,” she says. If you can, go for partnerships with people you already have a relationship with. If not, show that you value their insight first.
“Find some common ground, react, and engage with their content, figure out what exactly you want to do in terms of collaboration, then ask if they’d be interested. As long as it feels genuine, there’s no harm in asking.”
Social media has been particularly effective for Emily King. “Instagram is so good for not only finding people to collaborate with but as a tool to reach out to them. We are all about open and honest conversations and being human when we approach potential collaborators,” says The C Word Mag founder. “We tell them who we are, what ways we want to collaborate, and why we want to do it with them. Five or so years ago, I would probably have described myself as naturally shy, but here’s the thing: if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.”
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Commit to a Content Swap
Once you’ve established a connection, there are plenty of ways to execute a partnership. One of the more common options is sharing content. “I collaborate with other content creators and coaches for content series, challenges, and programs. I also collaborate with brands to create content for our owned channels,” says Jackson-Henderson.
That content can live on a website or social media, depending on your strategy. For King, it was the latter. “We also started The C Word Summer Series on our IGTV channel in August as an online music and wellness festival with live gigs, exercise classes, cookalongs, and mindset talks throughout the month from inspirational women.”
Run Giveaways and Discount Codes
Contests and giveaways can be effective if you’re selling a product or service. Earlier this year, King’s The C Word Mag executed brand collaborations on several levels.
“We’ve run giveaways/competitions with brands and artists on our Instagram channel…We’ve also offered product discount codes to our readers via our newsletter.”
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Start an Accountability Group
Partnering with another creator can also benefit your business in an indirect but equally impactful way. For Jenna Urben, collaborating with other creators is just as exciting as working with brands because it provides extra encouragement when you need it most.
“I typically team up with creators for accountability groups, masterminds, and giveaways. I love joining accountability groups with weekly check-ins,” she says. “Finding a mastermind group made me really think about my blog as a business. I’m in a group with so many established bloggers I look up to! It’s incredible how supportive the community is and how eager creators are to mentor newbies.”
Stay In Touch
No matter how you decide to connect, remember to sustain it. King recommends keeping in touch with the occasional email to build trust. “Drop them an email to see how they are. If we’ve got an upcoming content theme we think they’d be great in, we let them know. We want to turn short collaborations into long-term partnerships.”
For Jackson-Henderson, checking in starts at the beginning of the collaboration. “Investing the time in getting to know your collaborator and their wants, needs, and dreams not only pushes you to check in on yours,” she says, “but it allows you to think bigger and bring more to the table.”
Ultimately, Urben adds that showing up and supporting each other is huge. “A simple comment on Instagram or blog post share can go a long way.” More importantly, it inspires others to do the same.