We Are Expanding, and You Are All Involved!

Yes, you heard right. We are expanding, and you have all played a part. Over the past 30 days, our team, our membership, and are offerings have grown, and we couldn’t have done it without your help.

We are also excited to share that we are entering the world of “Blockchain”. For those of you who may not be familiar with Blockchain technology, here is Richard Bradley’s attempt to explain it in under 100 words:

“You (a “node”) have a file of transactions on your computer (a “ledger”). Two government accountants (let’s call them “miners”) have the same file on theirs (so it’s “distributed”). As you make a transaction, your computer sends an e-mail to each accountant to inform them. Each accountant rushes to be the first to check whether you can afford it (and be paid their salary “Bitcoins”). The first to check and validate hits “REPLY ALL”, attaching their logic for verifying the transaction (“Proof of Work”). If the other accountant agrees, everyone updates their file…This concept is enabled by “Blockchain” technology.” [https://www2.deloitte.com/ch/en/pages/strategy-operations/articles/blockchain-explained.html]

Make sense? Perhaps you are a super genius and 100 words was all you needed or (like we first were) you are looking at this blog, with your jaw to the floor, more confused than the time your 4th grade teacher asked you the square root of 239. Don’t worry, the more you utilize our platform, the more knowledgeable you will be in blockchain.

As you already know, at Collaborate.biz, we match your business with new partners to help you grow your referral network. As we expand, we are creating a turnkey solution that helps our members more easily attract, engage and motivate their brand ambassadors in order to grow faster, lower costs, and recruit smarter – all this while leveraging blockchain technology.

So what are brand ambassadors, anyway, and why do I need them?   Brand ambassadors are any stakeholders of your business, such as customers, partners, or even employees, who can help you promote your business and grow your team.  When your brand ambassadors are engaged and motivated, you can boost your sales efforts, lower recruiting costs, and grow faster.

Let’s face it.  Landing a new account is tough work, and it doesn’t come cheap.  You can spend countless hours chasing leads and writing RFP’s, only to come up empty handed. Even some of the best B2B companies end up spending several thousands of dollars to acquire a single customer.  That is why it really helps when your business is introduced to new customers by people that they already know and trust.  Even small gestures, like sending an email on your behalf, or telling prospects about your business, can make big difference when trying to land a new account. With Collaborate.Biz Brand Ambassadors, you can lower customer acquisition costs by rewarding your business connections every time they take small, but meaningful actions that can help you grow your business, such as giving referrals.  With the blockchain, we make it easy and cost efficient for you to manage these rewards, right when they can make a big difference.

So how does it work? Just like a loyalty program, your partners receive points when they complete a specific task, which they can redeem for cash, cryptocurrency, or other prizes that you choose.  Our software automates the rewards management process, while helping you stay on budget and in control, and is backed by powerful blockchain technology, for added security and efficiency.

More fun features and functionalities to come. As we bid February farewell, welcome March, and officially state “closing time” as the Semisonics play on… we would like to thank you all for your support thus far. We are excited to continue this journey with all of you.

Cheers!

How to Grow Your Business In 2018 Using Referrals

You don’t need to be rich to build your business.

Not all businesses need millions of dollars to gain momentum. Many of the largest corporations and Fortune 50 companies grew simply by building a successful referral network.  Whether you are starting a business or expanding, there are hundreds of questions that need answering. How much money does it take to start a business? How do I attract more customers? How do I get leads?

Everyone wants more visitors, more qualified leads and more revenue. To answer your question before we proceed; no, you don’t need millions of dollars to build your business. What you need is a strong customer and partner base. So, how do get more customers and partners to like your business? Create a referral network.

Referral networking is one of the best strategies to attract customers and create future partnerships at minimal cost. If you don’t know where to start, break it down. We have networked ever since the first day of Kindergarten. What did that cost you? Nothing. Perhaps, some of those kindergarten friends grew up to be entrepreneurs and business associates just like yourself?  Diving a little deeper into discussion. Perhaps, one of those friends referred you recently to another business that may benefit yours or help you down the road. Maybe they helped bring in new revenue by being a top customer to your business and using your product and/or services. Referral networking is a powerful resource.

Evernote, the note-taking software launched a referral program that awards points to customers every time they make a referral. To date, the service now has over 100 million users, 13 million of which were referred by other users. That is the power of referrals. The cost of implementation was priceless. It boosted their business exponentially and substantially. The best part, you can do it to!

This is your year. Build your referral network and grow your business in 2018!

How To Build A Business Profile That Attracts The Right Partners

Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

I was recently asked by one of our users: “What can businesses do to make sure they connect with the right partners?” My answer: “Make sure that you are clear about your business strategy.”  When businesses are clear about their goals, the customers they serve, and what they stand for, they are more likely to find partners who can help them grow. This may seem overly simplistic, but in practice, getting strategic clarity requires businesses to look deeply within themselves and to make tough choices.

In Collaborate.Biz, the first step to find and attract the right partners is to complete a strong Business Profile for your company. When you take the time to build a complete Business Profile, you help prospective partners more easily understand what you need from them, but also, what you can offer them. Strong Business Profiles can also help reveal hidden opportunities for collaboration, helping you find partners even in different industries or geographies.

So how do you write a strong business profile in Collaborate.Biz? It might help to look at a couple of Collaborate.Biz members, to see how they do it.

To access the Business Profile page:

  • Sign On to Collaborate.Biz with your username (usually your email) and your password
  • Select your business from the ‘My Businesses’ page
  • From the main menu at the top, click My Biz -> Profile – This will open your Business Profile page

 

Once you access the Business Profile page, then it’s time to update it with the most complete and up-to-date information for your business. You will find a number of sections, each containing specific information about your business. Click on the links below to learn more about each section of your Business Profile:

Once you have completed your business profile, it’s important that you keep the information up-to-date.

Now, it’s time to start looking for partners to help you grow your business!

Next: Home Tab: WHAT your business is all about

Home Tab: WHAT Your Business Is All About

The Home tab is where you explain what your business does and what makes it unique. The Home tab also helps other members understand what your business stands for – a sense of the meaning behind your brand.

To update the information on your Home tab, click the ‘+Edit Business Profile’ link, at the bottom of the page, as shown below.

Although not all fields are required by the app, the strongest Business Profiles provide as much information about your business as possible. At a minimum, we strongly recommended updating the following fields:

Field Comments Example
Description Basic overview of your business. This is a required field. “… I help people get results through better communication, across all relationships … I help people become more resourceful through better communication…”
Products & Services This is where you list, in some detail, what your business sells. Collaborate.Biz uses this field to match you with businesses that offer complementary products and services. Coaching, Training, Consulting, Assessments, Team Collaboration, Conflict Management, and Tension Management. If you don’t polish the diamonds, you look like a lump of coal.
My business excels at This drop down field gives other members a sense of what your brand stands for – the one thing that sets you apart. We know it’s hard to make a choice, so just go with your best judgment. Customer Service

Next: Ideal Partner Profile : Where referrals and collaborations come from

Ideal Partner Profile : Where Referrals And Collaborations Come From

It’s no secret that Collaborate.Biz takes inspiration from dating websites to help you network. Much like in a dating website, where users can specify the physical and personality traits of their desired partners, we use the information in the Ideal Partner Profile to match you with potential partners.

But what do we mean partners, and how are they different from customers? In the Collaborate.Biz parlance, a partner is another business that can become either a source of referrals for your business, or a business you can collaborate with on projects or initiatives. Although your customers can be an important source of referrals, we generally think of partners as other non-competing businesses who either share similar customers as you or offer complementary services. They are the types of businesses that you want to “team up with” to achieve your goals.

To update the information on your Ideal Partner Profile, click the ‘+Edit Partner Profile’ link, at the bottom of the page, as shown below.

Below is some guidance on how to fill your Ideal Partner Profile.

Field Comments Example
Description Provide a brief description of the types of businesses that could be good sources of referral for your business or with whom your business can collaborate. Coaches, Project Managers, and Business Analysts who do business with corporate or government clients.
Industries Your partners can be in your same industry, but many times, partners can also be found in adjacent or related industries. This field allows multiple selections. Consulting – Financial Services – Government – Human Resources – Manufacturing – Technology – Other
Geographic Preferences If your business has no geographic constraints, then check ‘Seeking Partners Nationally’ (default) and you can ignore all other geography related fields.   Otherwise, specify the general location where your partners should be located (city, state, zip code, and maximum distance). ‘Seeking Partners Nationally’
Certifications Check these optional fields if you are looking for partners who can help you meet diversity goals.   When these fields are marked, potential partners with these certifications will be ranked higher in your dashboard feed, but this will not prevent you from meeting other potential partners who do not have these certifications. Minority Owned Business, Woman Owned Business

Next: Ideal Customer Profile: WHO your business sells to

Ideal Customer Profile: WHO Your Business Sells To

When you have a good understanding of your customers, and can clearly communicate who these customers are, you make it easier for your partners to give you qualified referrals. That is why at Collaborate.Biz, we ask you a series of questions that help you paint a vivid picture of your customers, their needs, and why they are a good fit for your business.

The more precise you can be about the types of customers you seek, the better we can match you to referral partners who can reach them. There is no limit to how many customer profiles you can create.

To add customer profile, click the ‘+Create Customer Profile’ link, at the bottom of the page, as shown below.

Below is some guidance on how to fill your Ideal Customer Profile.

Field Comments Example
Customer Profile Name: This is a required field. Pick a name that helps other members remember who you to sell to. Mid-Size Companies
How would you describe your target customers to a friend? Provide a brief description of the types of businesses or consumers that stand to benefit greatly from your goods or services. You could include demographic / firmographic information if you know it, or simply describe, in layman’s terms, who these customers are and how to recognize them, Senior management and leadership at mid-size companies (~100 MM in sales), with at least 25 professional employees.
What goals are yours customers trying to achieve? When you can explain what your customers are trying to achieve, you make it easier for potential partners to identify good referrals that would benefit from your services. They want to see tangible results around:

– cross-functional communication

– from stagnation to momentum

– effective presentations

– better collaboration

What problem(s) are your customers trying to solve? Problems are pain points that your customers experience and that your business can help relieve. When partners can sell your business to customers in pain, it makes referrals more likely to succeed. Lack of employee retention, lack of engagement (especially on day to day tasks).
Why do your customers choose your business? This is your chance to explain why you are a good fit for your customers, which partners can use to sell you to their contacts. – Always start with a discovery conversation, where issues bubble up

– Consequence and values

– Ability to build trust rapidly

– Vast experience in corporate, non-corporate, and non-profit

What are your customers expectations in terms of service? Do your customers expect white glove service? Do they expect a fast response time? Do they require a lot of education? Sometimes, how you interact with customers makes all the difference. – Adaptable should never mean vague. We offer a clear process on over deliver on expectations.

– Approachable, accessible, and adaptable.

Next: Collaboration Ideas: HOW your business can collaborate and grow

Collaboration Ideas: HOW Your Business Can Collaborate And Grow

Collaboration Ideas are initiatives or projects in which your business can benefit from partnering with others. By proposing collaboration ideas, you help potential partners understand not only what you can do for them, but just as importantly, what your business can do for them.

So what makes for a good collaboration idea? Good collaboration ideas:

  • “Expand the pie,” helping all partners benefit by achieving things they couldn’t do on their own
  • Clarify each partner’s roles and responsibilities
  • Play to each partner’s strengths

We highly encourage all members to propose collaboration ideas. There is no limit to how many collaboration ideas your business can propose, and best of all, they can lead to meaningful, long-term partnerships.

To propose a collaboration idea, click the ‘+Create a Collaboration Idea’ link, at the bottom of the page, as shown below.

Below is some guidance on how to fill the form to propose a collaboration idea:

Field Comments Example
Title: This is a required field. Pick a name that helps other members remember what you are proposing. M&A Package
Description: Provide a brief description of the initiative that may help potential collaborators visualize what you are proposing. Services package where we help companies going through mergers and acquisitions with both their operational and relationship strategy.
Type of Collaboration: This is a drop down field that helps frame the scope of the initiative. Collaboration Ideas can be as tactical and informal as a ‘one-off’ Event, or can be as long-term and formal as a Joint Venture. Project Proposal / Bid Team
How it benefits out businesses This is where you explain how this collaboration idea “expands the pie.” Will collaborating result in savings for your company? Will it bring new customers? Additional source of revenue
What I bring to the table Share how your business will contribute to make this collaboration successful Experience in M&A and how to package communications. Expertise in relationship strategy, presentation, persuasion and influence.
Types of Business A brief description of the types of businesses that you want to collaborate with for this initiative. Organization Development, Business Analysts, Project Managers, 8A Companies (Veteran, Minority, or Women-owned) who can bid on specific projects.
What Partners bring to the table Describe how partners can contribute to make this collaboration successful Analytical and operational skills.
Partners are in any of the following industries (choose all that apply) This is a multiple drop-down field for the industries where partners can come from. Consider adjacent industries that can help your business grow. Consulting – Human Resources – Other

Next: DBE Certifications: Unlock Opportunities While Promoting Diversity

DBE Certifications: Unlock Opportunities While Promoting Diversity

In many cases, government agencies and large corporations set aside projects for businesses that can help them achieve diversity goals. This provides an opportunity for small and disadvantaged businesses to compete effectively and win projects. It also provides an incentive for larger businesses to partner with smaller, disadvantaged businesses in order to access opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to them.

When you certify your business as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) or a Veteran Business Enterprise (VBE), you are providing evidence to both customers and partners that your business is eligible to compete for these opportunities. The most common types of certifications recognized by government agencies and large corporations are:

  • Minority Owed Business
  • Woman Owned Business
  • Disadvantaged Owned Business
  • Veteran Business Enterprise
  • Small Business Enterprise

Your business may be eligible for one or more of the above certifications, so we recommend all our members to look into these opportunities. There are many organizations and government agencies that can help your business with this process, including the Small Business Administration, the Women’s Business Development Center, and the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, among many others.

To update your DBE Certification section in Collaborate.Biz, click on the ‘+Edit DBE/VBE Certifications’ link, as shown below. To Update or Remove your certification files, however, click on the respective ‘Update’ or ‘Remove’ buttons.

Below is some guidance on how to fill the DBE Certification section of your business profile:

Field Comments Example
Is Your Firm Certified As Any of The Following (Please Check All That Apply)? Check any of these optional fields ONLY if your business has obtained the official certification. When these fields are marked, it flags your business to potential partners who are looking for partners that meet these certifications. Minority Owned Business, Woman Owned Business, Small Business Enterprise
Is the company qualified by any agency to perform work as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) or Veteran Business Enterprise (VBE)? This Yes/No radio button tells prospective partners if your certification has been qualified by a specific government agency. Yes
If yes, Please list the agencies below. This helps prospective partners understand the agencies you can work with. Illionois Tollway, IDOT, CDOT (City Of Chicago), Metra, CTA Chicago Public Schools, and more
DBE/VBE Certification

 

Additional DBE/VBE Information

This where you upload your certification files, so prospective partners can see them. DBE CERT.pdf

 

The Power of Collaboration Ideas

As your business grows, the right business partner can be one of your business’s most valuable assets. At Collaborate.biz, our mission is for your business to find the perfect partner to help your business achieve its strategic goals. We’ve included some tips below for writing great collaboration ideas and outlining your vision for the future.

What’s a collaboration idea?

A collaboration idea is a project or opportunity that brings partners together to achieve a common goal.  Let’s look at an example. Michelle, a commercial real estate developer in Chicago is working on a new commercial office building on the north side of the city. This is Michelle’s first project in Chicago and to complete the project, Michelle will need to find new strategic partners. Michelle will need a real estate agent to help sell the building, she’ll need an architect to design the building, a construction company to build it, a mortgage company to finance the sales, and a real estate attorney. To find the right partners, Michelle created a collaboration idea on Collaborate.biz.

What makes a good collaboration idea?

When businesses collaborate, each partner brings something unique to the table. Whether it’s expertise, assets, or networks, partners can achieve much more together. Learning from Aristotle, at  Collaborate.biz, we understand that the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts and it’s our job to help your business capture that concept in your collaboration idea.

Let’s take Michelle for example. By partnering with real estate professionals, an architecture firm, a construction company, and an attorney, Michelle is able to pursue larger projects that she might not have considered otherwise. She can also complete projects quickly without soliciting contractors for different aspects of her project. Michelle’s partners will benefit from new business, increased revenues, and a reduction in client acquisition costs. Michelle’s partners may also pursue larger projects in the future because of their new strategic partner.

How to propose a new collaboration idea?

Watch the video tutorial below or check out the steps below.

1.)   Click Create from the navigation bar at the top of the page.

 

2.)   Select New Collaboration Idea from the drop down.


3.) You’ll see this form.

 

4.) Give the project an appealing and descriptive name. Select the collaboration type and include as many details about your project as possible.

5.)  This section is essentially a pitch for your business and your project. In this section, you should include what makes the project appealing under the How it benefits both of our businesses. Explain why your business is ideal for collaborating on this project under What I bring to the table.

6.) This section is about your ideal partner. Be descriptive when listing the type of business or businesses that you’re looking for in a partner. In the What Partners Bring to the table, include the type of skills, experience, certifications, licenses, and expertise that you’d like your ideal partner to have. Finally, select the industry type or types that your ideal partner or partners belong to.

By creating and participating in Collaboration Ideas, you can help your business unlock new sources of revenue and build long-lasting relationships with strategic partners that can help take your business to the next level.  At Collaborate.Biz, we are all about that.

Josh Nezianya is a Freelance Developer and Digital Marketer, with experience in WordPress, Email Marketing, and Google Analytics.  You can contact him at Joshua.Nezianya@gmail.com.