by Laura E. Pence | Featured Contributor
As a lifelong athlete I know a thing or two about competition.
I also know the thrill of victory. I love to compete and I love to win! I have always excelled at swimming and diving and still expect to rank at the top of my age group when I compete in US Master Swimming as an adult. Even though I won the high point trophy every year in which I competed, I was also awarded the coaches award once (in diving) for my hard work, dedication, and teamwork. That award is seldom given to the high point winner, who has already received quite enough recognition, but my coach explained he felt had to give it to me because I had earned it by going above and beyond. I was truly humbled and grateful; it was a moment I will never forget. Similarly, I recognize the value of competition in business, but highly value the spirit of teamwork and good sportsmanship in the business world.
You can be competetive and still be a team player.
In swimming and diving, you compete as an individual, but you also earn points for your team at the same time. You could easily win an event and lose the meet. Older swimmers were expected and encouraged to cheer for the younger swimmers and help them out as much as possible. Younger swimmers were expected to help the older swimmers count laps in distance events. The whole team often cheered for swimmers from smaller teams who had no cheering squad of their own. We wanted each swimmer to get their best time and come out of the water proud of themselves no matter what. We were proud of our team, we wanted to win, and we also wanted nothing but the best for the entire league. Bad sportsmanship was simply not tolerated. This strong influence on me in my formative years (I started year round swimming at the age of 5) has informed my attitude and behavior my entire life in both business and personal relationships.
I have never wanted to see a teammate, a competitor, or anyone fail.
If the person next to me swam their best time it benefited me by pushing me to do better, myself. I feel the same way about competitors in business. The better they do, the more I want to succeed; their success gives me encouragement! I also view the online marketing industry as a whole and am occasionally embarrassed by some peer’s unethical or shady behavior; it reeks of bad sportsmanship (or even outright cheating.) Every time I hear of someone taking advantage of a person or business it makes me cringe. It happens in every industry, but I don’t have to like it!
Over the years, I have had many coaches (and still do.)
I vastly prefer the ones who give positive feedback and encouragement over those who yell and only focus on what has gone wrong. I choose to work with professionals and business people who are cooperative, giving, and generous. If someone is always out for themselves, trying to dominate others by belittling their successes, or simply isn’t interested in cooperation then I avoid and disassociate myself and my company from them as much as possible. Any energy spent engaging them is wasted and leaves me feeling drained; that’s reason enough! If someone has a positive energy, great determination, and knows how to get things done, then it’s game on! Nancy Gaines fits that bill to a tee. She says that “you meet your goals faster with the right partners.” She should know, since she coaches people on how to achieve maximum results in their business in a super-condensed timeframe. One VIP day with her set me ahead 6 months. I am blessed that she found me and invited me into her inner circle.
“You meet your goals faster with the right partners.” Nancy Gaines, Tactical Business Consultant with Gain Advantages Inc.
Cooperative marketing creates more opportunity.
I work closely with a group of women who all work in social media. We meet regularly to collaborate; they are the most positive, wonderful group of people to bounce ideas off, ask for help, and send referrals. Some people are surprised at the Colorado Women in Social Media and wonder why we would help each other when they think we should be competing for clients. The truth is that we each have a distinct brand and we love to work with and appeal to different audiences. Sure, there is some overlap, but we are all happy for each other because no one person is taking advantage of another or undermining them. Together, we are putting on events and sharing content that lifts us all as a group and as individuals. We have big plans!
As a shining example, I give you Hollie Clere, the Social Media Advisor.
She is one of my #SocialSisters in CWSM. She runs her own highly successful social media agency. Rather than feeling threatened by her peers, she welcomes new members and helps them with sincere enthusiasm. She has helped Michelle Hoglan and myself to find a home in another Denver marketing group, the Experience Pros, and has accepted our help in return. I occasionally provide administrative support at her workshops and love listening to her teach; she’s a joy! She provides assistance to me if I need it,as well, and we all promote each others seminars, workshops, and other endeavors. Our businesses do overlap, but in the spirit of cooperation we have chosen to highlight areas where we don’t compete when speaking to the same group of people. She focuses on community building and conversation, I focus on lead generation and marketing automation, and Michelle speaks to reputation marketing. That way we all win and no one feels awkward about approaching any us!
If someone finds Hollie or Michelle through me and chooses to work with either of them it is not my loss, that client was not meant to work with me if they feel drawn to someone else. Most likely, in practice, we would each perform certain tasks for a client and refer them if they want something another other person loves. Hollie loves to do social media build outs and I love to do ongoing management, neither one of us provides reputation marketing except through Michelle! Both Hollie and I teach workshops, but we have made our topics complimentary rather than repeating exactly the same material. She recently taught an intermediate level class on effectively using LinkedIn for prospecting and I am following that with my workshop, Blogging for LinkedIn, which teaches how to maximize your exposure. It’s awesome!
When I discussed this blog with Hollie (and asked for her blessing to brag about her) I asked for a quote she graciously said,
“The business world is too small to be competitive with people you can collaborate with. It is better to provide a full suite of services by engaging professionals who have gifts and strengths in specific areas rather than trying to provide ALL support services for your clients. I have found that when I collaborate with businesses who might appear to be my competitors, I have zeroed in on the skills I enjoy most and in return, my power partners are able to do the same. Because we all have a niche, different strengths and skills, it possible to collaborate instead of compete for business. After all, we can’t be amazing at ALL things if we try to take on everything; we will end up just being ok and it will show to our clients. I would rather #BeAwesome with a focused approach, then wear myself thin trying to take over the world.” Hollie Clere, the Social Media Advisor
This is why I say choose your power partners wisely and cooperate to win business. I am happy and blessed to be working in coopetition with these ladies, among others, to build each other up as we improve ourselves. There is no need to tear down other women to succeed; we all do so much better working together.
What has been your experience? Have you found your tribe? Are you still searching?
As President of Social Savvy Geek, LLC., Laura E. Pence is passionate about helping entrepreneurs and business owners to meet and exceed their goals. She is committed to providing the most engaging and effective strategies for online marketing by combining traditional business networking and marketing fundamentals and best practices with current and engaging online marketing methods and tactics. Laura has worked with some of the top names in Internet Marketing and has consulted with entrepreneurs, businesses, and nonprofits in the US and abroad. She is the author of the popular article, 10 Tips to Build Your Twitter List Now, which has been published both online and in print in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. Connect with her: @SocialSavvyGeek LinkedIn Facebook
A lifetime student herself, Laura has achieved certification as a Computer Administrative Specialist at Beta Tech and has studied Art Education, History, Art History, and Criminal Justice at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is fascinated with learning, sharing and growing, not just in business, but in life. She participates in US Masters Swimming and has ranked in the top 25 in her age group in both the 50 and 100 yard backstroke. She served in the VA Army National Guard as a Combat Engineer in the 229th Engineer Battalion. She never meets strangers, only friends not yet made– an attitude that serves her extremely well in the networking world, both online and off. She currently lives in Denver, CO with her 2 year old daughter.