Collaboration. Teamwork. Unity.
These three words play a pivotal part in my life both personally and professionally. Since I was a little girl I’ve been involved in team sports. Whether I was on a soccer field kicking goals or stopping shots in the field hockey net, teamwork is a value that has been instilled in me and I’ve continued to use it throughout my professional career.
In the workplace, creating a strong team is key to all business success. It’s been proven that companies with excellent records of team-driven activity have a powerful edge over their less united competitors. Using a team structure to achieve business goals is at its best when mutual efforts, guided by clearly articulated goals, combine to produce exemplary performance levels.
As a business you want your best starters out on the field and each person brings their own specialty – designated hitter (always lands new business), the sweeper (the co-worker who can always clean up the messy situations), the closer (the gal who the team can always rely on) and the hype man (the team’s biggest cheerleader no matter the circumstances – that’s me!)
While it’s important to have a solid starting 11 to ensure business success, making sure you have a deep bench is crucial.
The Bench Players
When it comes to the bench, I’m not referencing the remaining employees in your office who aren’t “starters.” In my mind, the bench is the individuals and companies in the bullpen who you can call on at any moment who aren’t within your internal organization.
At Devine + Partners, we’re a full-service public relations agency that covers everything from digital communications, social media management, and crisis support. We take pride in our work and the services we provide to clients whether they are higher education institutions or one of the country’s top hospital networks.
However, when a client project has tasks outside of our capabilities, we are the first to admit that we don’t know all the things. And that’s okay – because when we can’t support a certain part of a project, we call on our trusty bullpen.
Building Your Bullpen
Knowing your team’s core strengths is crucial because we can’t and don’t want to be all things to all clients. We’re focused. When networking and cultivating business relationships, it’s critical to remember how you can extend your core strengths with assistance from partner organization to be even more successful for a client.
Does your team not offer high-quality videography? At your next networking mixer, scope out an individual who works for a production company and learn about their offerings. Do social media analytics and data keep you up at night? Next time you’re on LinkedIn, research which college friends now work in the digital marketing space. Are you missing graphic design experience? Find a local creative agency that can help with all your needs whether digital or print.
Deepening Your Bench
You may be looking to build your bench players, but you don’t know where to start. Here is a suggestion:
At your next networking event, be sure to have a strategic game plan just like your coach would:
- Warm up: Take a lap around the venue and look at name tags and business affiliations.
- The Match: Get into a rhythm and begin conversations with individuals who can supplement your business capabilities and be valued as an extension to your team.
- Score: After chatting, be sure to exchange business cards and set up a time on the books to discuss collaboration possibilities and ways to benefit each other’s businesses.
ROI on Building Your Bench
As companies, we’re focused on building a strong internal team, making sure our employees fit our business needs and are culturally aligned, while offering the best services possible to our clients. However, putting in the time and effort to build your bench is vital. Here is your ROI next time you look to collaborate outside the office:
- Say goodbye to passing on RFPs – Remember that RFP that is looking for graphic design elements? Stress no more, call in the righty, your new creative design agency partner. Before throwing in the towel, go back to your inbox or stack of business cards and see who you can pull in for reinforcement.
- Referrals – When we collaborate with other companies and build trust, referral rates increase. According to a Nielsen study, 92 percent of respondents trusted referrals from people they knew. Continue to build your relationships, provide assistance to your counterparts when they are in need, and remember their service capabilities when meeting new clients.
- Add a New Team Member – If you are consistently passing on opportunities for the same lack of skill in one area, consider recruiting a new team member to fill that gap and make your team even more competitive in the future.