In the end things are not going to work out between us. We can agree that eventually we will go our separate ways. Business, friendships, marriage, even true love will eventually fail us. That is not a pity party. It is a point of strength. Let me explain.
“Embrace Change.” is one of those rally cries that never really got to the heart of the matter for me. Sure things will change, this wonderful position we’ve created inside of a large corporation will eventually be reset and you will be sent across to another department and another manager. Good luck with that. I don’t want to embrace the change. I want to fight against it. I want to attempt to keep things just as they are, when things are good. Of course, it’s a futile effort.
So if we start the relationship without expectations that things are going to work out, we can get right to the questions: 1. what do I want; 2. can you help me get it?; 3. can I help you back in any way?
We are all motivated by what we want. And every relationship (yep, every single one) contains some value proposition between the two parties. In one-to-one consulting the arrangement is pretty straight forward. After a few brainstorming lunches, if there are no benefits, the relationship will fade. Or if one of the parties tries to introduce or promote the other and the efforts are not reciprocal, it’s pretty simple. If we are not related and we are not in business together… AND eventually things are not going to work out between us, we can get right to the pros and cons.
Pros: working with someone else offers more ideas, comeradrie, additional experience, additional skills, positive momentum.
Cons: working with someone can be a pain in the ass, they have expectations, the project requires twice the budget to feed both of you, they can be late, they can NOT offer the reciprocal leads.
We’ve had them both. We have “colleagues” who we are still in touch with, ten years after we worked together. And we have “colleagues” who we won’t add to our LinkedIN contacts list.
So let’s assume the failure in our relationship is not the fatal kind, but one of opportunity and convenience. It takes a lot of energy and effort on both sides to make a relationship go. And when one party’s interest begins to wain, the mutual balance is upset and before you know it it’s been six months since you spoke to them.
For now, let’s assume that we are not going to be doing business together in six months. Then let’s take the time we have and compare notes and see what benefits we can offer each other. While so much of today’s “business networking” is WIIFM (what’s in it for me) we need to understand that the ultimate answer is NOTHING. And from there we can decide if we want to walk into that next pitch meeting with or without this new “partner.”
I’ve had some business relationships that are maturing on 10 and 15 years now. I have failed them. They have let me down. The ones that still show mutual benefit and effort are still rich and fruitful. We may go through a long period of silence, but once you have found a true PARTNER, even if things don’t work out, they will always be ready to try again when the next opportunity comes up.
Can you fail your partner and still pick up the pieces to remain partners? Is partner too strong a word?
Bottom Line: Let’s agree that we are going to break up right now, before we sit down to have coffee. Then let’s explore what connections we share RIGHT NOW. There is no time to wait around and see if things work out. They won’t.
But if there is a white hot opportunity that you and I can do together, today… I’M ALL IN. 100% IN.