I have a new work project that requires me to interact with lots of different brands. Brands of all sizes… some that are households names, some that have a small but powerful following & some that are just getting started.
In our personal and our professional lives, we make a lot of assumptions. We assume we know:
Assumptions are dangerous, because they can literally short circuit a blessing that is en route. Assumptions are based on our insecurities and experiences and can totally be off base. When I find myself making an assumption about a brand, I immediately check myself with the phrase “We can ask, and the worst thing they can tell us is no.”
I also go into meetings with at least three pre-conceived ideas that are win-win for both myself & my potential partner. These pre-conceived ideas are rooted in research. I spend a lot of time looking at what the brand has done in the past, and use that as either a template for my ideas, or a bridge to my idea. Often, I am able to walk away with a commitment on at least one of my ideas.
Sometimes people pitch things and it doesn’t align or fit. If you’ve spent all of your time and energy developing this idea, that your potential partner is not interested in, it’s easier for the brand or the partner to say they are not interested and walk away from the deal. After the introductions and you have the opportunity to share more information about your brand and what you do, and they do the same, it also doesn’t help to ask, “Based on what you know about my company, are there any projects you’d like to collaborate on?” Most organizations always have something coming up that they’ll share.
The biggest thing is not to be afraid to ask! Remember that while you can ask for money, there are more valuable ways that you can collaborate and if you’re able to develop a connection besides strictly transactional (one where you’re strictly doing a service and getting paid for that service, or you receive a donation in the case of a nonprofit), you can create a long-term partnership that is beneficial for both brands. Also, be open to whatever they may be interested in doing, even if it wasn’t something you initially thought about.