handshake  behind a corporative building.Great for any design.

What makes someone successful? Can anyone really do it alone?

If you go back to the Presidential election, there was a big debate about self vs. community, and how much the government really helps businesses. Without getting political, the overarching message is that nobody does anything alone.

Everything is life is about building partnerships…even if you don’t call it that specific word. You could say relationships, acquaintances, friends, family… the bottom line is that you need a group of people to support you in everything you do.

Why Partnerships Matter Online

Partnerships matter even more online than they do in real life. That may be the opposite of what you’re use to hearing or thinking, but hear me out.

The Internet is a great place to post ideas, share content, tell stories, and more. In fact, many people come out of their shells online because there is a sense of anonymity on the Internet. You can be and say whatever you want, and people can love or hate you for it.

But even if you blog or post under an alias, people still respond to you. Just look at entire communities like Reddit, where individuals have unique aliases, but entire threads and followers emerge. Ideas, and more so people, get to know each other, build relationships, and sometimes even meet in the real world.

But think about this – if nobody responded, even to your alias’ thoughts, would you still go to Reddit?  Would you still post on the forum?  If nobody read your website, would you still write?

For 99% of us, the answer is probably no. And that’s why partnerships, relationships, and more matter even more online than they do offline.

Where to Start Building Strong Online Partnerships

Because of the anonymity factor, building strong online partnerships can be hard. I know it was very hard for me to start building and connecting with people for a few reasons:

  1. I am shy in real life
  2. I didn’t know how to network
  3. I didn’t get the idea of helping others

When I started The College Investor, I blogged completely anonymously. I wrote under the alias “The College Investor”, and had a pretty sad “About” page with no personal information. And guess what? For about a year and half, nobody really came to my website. I thought it was a good day if I had 100 pageviews. But I was wrong…I needed to do something different.

The Power of a Network

Then I stumbled upon the Yakezie Network.  Wow…it was eye opening. Here there was a community of bloggers, some new, some old, some with low traffic sites, others that dominate.  Everyone was willing to help and share. It was pretty enlightening. I spent hours and hours just reading the forums, stopping by member’s sites, and more. I learned so much.

But that still didn’t do anything for me – I was too shy to participate. It took several months before I made an account and logged in, but I finally got the courage. I thought I would take the Yakezie Challenge, and just slip my name in this now 94 page long thread for potential challengers to sign-up. And you know what happened?  Just sharing my attempt to take on the challenge resulted in more visits and comments on my website than had ever happened before. And everyone was so nice and welcoming! It was great!

But partnerships and relationships go both ways. I soon realized that it was as much my engagement with others that, in turn, bread more help and engagement with me. This meant commenting on their sites, responding to their questions in the forums, emailing them, congratulating them, and more!

I thought to myself, “wow, I love getting comments, so they must love getting comments too!” Pretty simple…  Just doing this slowly over time has allowed me to build some great relationships online. You get to know people, just like you would offline.  You can help people. They can help you.

Outside of Networks

You don’t just need to be in a network of bloggers online to build relationships online.  There are other avenues as well, but I haven’t used many of the (yet).  A few that come to mind are conferences, where like-minded people get together and share ideas.  This can be a great way to build relationships with people you know, and start building relationships with ones you don’t.

You can also just connect with other bloggers you admire.  I read a lot of non-Yakezie blogs as well, and I’ve reached out to several of the authors on occasion to share my thoughts and give some encouragement.  Over time, this has build several great relationships as well.

How To Leverage Your Partnerships for the Future

Building partnerships is only the start.  Just like in business and life, you have to learn how to leverage your relationships as well.  If you become a “user”, people will stop wanting to help you.  If you’re always the giver, you may feel taken advantage of in a relationship.  Strong partnerships are ones where there is a balance struck between helping others, and getting help yourself.

One of the key mantras of the Yakezie Network is Selflessly Helping Others.  And I’m all about helping others.  I want to help college students master their finances and start investing (that’s why I started my blog).  I want to help new bloggers succeed.  And if a partnership doesn’t come from those interactions, that’s fine.  It’s still great to help.  But when you do start forming a partnership, or other strong relationship, you need to know how to leverage that appropriately.

A few key examples of how to leverage your partnerships comes to mind:

Motivation and Encouragement

This is something that every business owner and individual needs from time to time.  Successful partnerships can help with that by having a framework laid down for people to communicate  with one another.  A simple example of this is the Yakezie Challenge.  By having a group of bloggers in a situation where they have to network and get to know each other, you build relationships and help each other out.  Another good example of this is the 5,000 Words Per Week Challenge, where bloggers challenge each other to write 5,000 words per week and check in to share their progress.

Starting a New Business or Venture

Starting a new business or other venture is hard.  Some businesses work, some don’t.  However, if you’ve build strong relationships with people, you have a couple of options that you can leverage to have them help you.  First, you can solicit beta testers.  You can run ideas by people, see what they are looking for, and even have them try out your product.  If you’re launching a book, you can ask your partners to help you by giving them early copies and asking for feedback.  I know I’ve had several ideas where I’ve basically pitched them to a few people just to solicit feedback.  If you don’t have a relationship with a person, they are less likely to help you.  But the stronger the relationship, the more likely they are to help and support.

Promotion

Finally, your biggest partners are also the ones most likely to promote you to others. If you promote them, they’ll likely promote you in return.  This can not only grow and expand your audience, but could also put you in touch with others who may become strong partners in the future. For example, I love Nuts and Bolts Media. From web design, to hosting, Andrea does a great job. I promote her and recommend her, because not only has she done amazing work for me, but she is also a great partner online.

How Strong Are Your Partnerships?

Now, ask yourself this?  How strong are the partnerships you’ve built online?  Do you wish they could be better?

I know I always wish I could be a better partner to my online friends and acquaintances, and I’ve challenged myself with this – interact more.

For me, I’m trying to email one-on-one more with stronger partners. I’m also trying to comment more, and socially promote more with others who may not be as strong a relationship.

I’m also trying to make new partners.  If a new blogger stops by my website, I go to theirs, read up, and leave some comments. I want them to feel valued as a member of my community.

I now challenge you to go out and build stronger partnerships with your friends or acquaintances online. Take it to the next level – find the “Contact” form and send them an email. It doesn’t have to be much, but even a thank you can go a long way!