Howdy Partners #17: Living in the Ecosystem

Howdy Partners #17: Living in the Ecosystem

Multiple Contributors 25 min

You’re going to hear ecosystem a lot in 2023. As strategic partnership professionals continue to drive buzz around living in the ecosystem, what does it mean?

The guys dig into exactly that and shed some light on the communities that are building momentum around ecosystems and partnerships.

3 key takeaways

  1. Live in the Ecosystem.
  2. If you want to understand your customer, the problems they’re facing, and the solutions they really need, then you need to immerse yourself in the watering holes they’re already a part of.
  3. Find more partnering opportunities and become a subject matter expert.
  4. When you share and connect in the ecosystems where your customers and partners live, you’re creating more opportunities for them to see you, and seek you out. That makes your job as a partnering professional easier.
  5. Get out and get in front of the people in your ecosystem.
  6. Don’t try everything all at once, but commit to engaging with your ecosystem. Whether it’s booking a meeting a week or finding an event you can go to, make it a priority to connect.

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Full transcript:

Will Taylor 00:20

Howdy partners, welcome to another episode today we’re going to be talking about living in the ecosystem. And it’s Ben and myself today, Ben, how are you doing?

Ben Wright 00:31

I’m alright, mate. Yeah, as I was saying, Before, we jumped on the cord snowy in Utah, which is probably one of the best times because Utah is known for skiing. So cold, but good me. And yeah, shame that Tom can join us today. But, you know, a new role in the stresses of that and kids as well, which I mean, you don’t have the luxury of just yet. So, yeah, glad to be on and interesting topic to be to be talking about

Will Taylor 00:59

as well. Yeah, I think going into 2023, this will be a very important one. Because the themes that we talked about today, I’ve had a lot of conversations with people, and almost every partner person is talking about things that we’ll talk about today. So dangle the carrot a little bit. Living in the ecosystem. Ben, what does that actually mean to you? When we talk about? Yeah, living in the ecosystem? And being in the ecosystem? What does that actually mean?

Ben Wright 01:30

So I think for me, it means that you’re fully immersed in, in partnerships. And I think what I mean by that is like we have this community that’s being developed, whether that be through, you know, partner, hacker or partnership leaders, and there’s people that are giving back to the community in the form of content in the form of thought leadership. And I think being a member of that, and giving back to the community is what it means to be in the ecosystem, having conversations meeting with people. Just putting yourself out there a little bit that that probably encapsulates what living in the ecosystem means to me, it’s that is that putting yourself out there and giving back to, to your community, which is obviously in our case, the partnerships community.

Will Taylor 02:16

Yeah. And it can definitely manifest in a bunch of different ways. And there was a story that I was hearing about an entrepreneur that never wanted to be an entrepreneur until they were so engaged in, you know, these communities in these different watering holes that they were the people that they’re speaking to, and so I think that is a really telling case of, you know, to truly understand who you’re going to be engaging with, and the problems that they have, and therefore, the solutions that you can bring forward to them living in the ecosystem is critical. And I would say, I would go as far to say that most CEOs probably don’t engage enough in the ecosystem. And that leaves them disconnected from what their customers are actually wanting. And so in terms of company direction, I would say that they stagnate because of that. And so yeah, living in the ecosystem, I think what that truly means is really just engaging with the people that you serve, or aim to serve.

Ben Wright 03:29

The point you just made about like CEOs not engaging, I’ll even use just a very simplistic example of LinkedIn, right, and creating content strategy, like even that, in itself is living in the ecosystem, because you’re creating content for your customers, you’re listening to how they respond, you’re figuring out what they find valuable as well. And I think the the primary example of a company where their executives invest in the ecosystem and live in the ecosystem would be gone. And I always bring them up when I talk about content strategy, but from the CEO to the CMO, everybody throughout that organization is engaging with customers via LinkedIn on a daily basis. And I think that in itself is super valuable. I mean, again, like customer calls, great, probably a better way to do so. But even for a CEO, to be on LinkedIn, and to hear customer feedback, customer suggestions, interact with the people that they serve. It is really, really valuable because I think sometimes C suite is is kind of protected or insulated from from what’s going on on the ground. And so having that feedback loop built in through platforms, like LinkedIn, I think is extremely valuable for for companies to do.

Will Taylor 04:45

Yeah. And so how do you think it benefits we talked about, you know, feedback, but what are some of the benefits of living in the ecosystem? Let’s say I’m a CEO or partner person, like what am I actually gaining and what is the business feeling when doing so?

Ben Wright 05:02

Yeah. And I think I’ll separate that question down into two parts. Firstly, like, what am I gaining, and I can just speak from personal experience. So I think you can read all the books you want on partnerships, you can take as many courses as you want on partnerships, the only where I’ve learned the most and where I’ve grown the most professionally is through conversations with people like yourself with people like Jared Brian Williams, people that are in the in the community have been in the community and have actually done the job that I am doing currently, right, there’s nothing, there’s nothing better from a learning and development perspective to actually talk to people that have been there and done it. And so I think personally, for me, that is something that I I take out of being in the ecosystem. And then conversely, I can also be a resource for other people, I go back to this principle of reciprocity, which we always talk about in partnerships, and basically the motion of I take, but I also give an equal amounts. And so if you’re going to be in the ecosystem, you also have to be willing to give back, it can’t be the type of relationship where you are constantly asking for things constantly, you know, pulling out information and pulling out resources, you have to be able to give back. And I’d even say give back more than you take to be totally honest. And so I think both of those sides, that’s what’s in it for you that person, I think for the company, what you get is is thought leadership, ultimately, again, let’s use gone example, easy example to use. But clarity is another one that do it really well. They have established themselves as thought leaders of revenue intelligence, in the in their ecosystem, right. And even outside of their ecosystem, everybody that’s in sales knows of Gong as the revenue intelligence platform. And they know that because they give back to that community through thought leadership, through podcasts, if you watch gone watch the content, they post, it’s never about the new feature they’ve released, it’s never about this cool new part of GM, it’s always about here’s how to write a good cold email, or when you’re cold calling, here’s how to do X, because they know their ICP is sales and the value they’re giving and the thought leadership they’re giving to their ecosystem is a lot more valuable than just pitching their product. And so I think those two things, what’s in it for you? And what’s in it for the company is is ultimately thought leadership and knowledge sharing, as well.

Will Taylor 07:25

Yeah, and I think so I alluded to 2023 being even more important, or this being even more important during that time, because we’re seeing so many salespeople and SDRs have their role modified, where they’re either creating content, or they’re engaging in the communities more. And it’s almost like they’re becoming an ecosystem development rep versus, you know, a sales development rep. And what I find the most interesting, especially about what you said, it’s, it’s like, when you’re engaging in the ecosystem, you become a subject matter expert, as an individual. And so you can speak more competently in your conversations and ask better questions, you know, especially if you’re selling or, you know, partnering, but then also, when it comes time for your brands to have more awareness, because you show up so often, your brand has that awareness as well. And there’s that trust established. So then, when your brand does put out content, then like you mentioned for Gong, it’s, it’s not perceived as people being sold to it’s not, hey, here’s a new feature, it’s it, here’s some interesting information that’s going to help you. And it’s well informed. And it’s meeting people where they are for the relevant topics that they’re probably already talking about, and giving them answers to those things as well. And I think that everyone needs to do and I think it’s even more especially true for partnerships where one if you’re out there in the ecosystem, you know, the partner ecosystem, you’re probably going to find partners that you can partner with. But you’re also going to become more of a subject matter expert as you engage more. And so I think for partner people, specifically, there’s that dual benefit where you don’t have necessarily an ICP, you’d obviously have an IPP, but it’s going to be a little bit more general. And you can always still, you know, get introduction in some form. So, yeah, I think it’s actually important.

Ben Wright 09:27

And I think that there’s two things you said that are really interesting. And I’ll start with the first one, which was as a partnership, professionalize it especially important, and I think like, when you’re when you’re starting a new partnership role, one of the most time consuming things can be recruitment of partners, right? Like, you actually have to go and write those cold emails or do the outreach on LinkedIn. If you’re a thought leader in the space, and I’ll even goes as superficial to say, if you’re writing content on LinkedIn and you have a ton of followers, you immediately To gain legitimacy, and people are a lot more likely to read that message that you’ve sent them, it seems crazy to say, but like, for example, somebody cold emails me or cold pings me on LinkedIn, I’ll check out their profile. And if they’re a thought leader, I’ll probably respond to be totally honest with you. But if it’s somebody that’s got no followers never engaged, never like, I probably won’t give them the time of day. And so I definitely had HelpScout, where I didn’t post about HelpScout. But I had people reaching out to me about partnering with HelpScout. So that byproduct of become a thought leader, and then stuff will stuff will follow. The additional point you mentioned is like the, the changing landscape of the market and the macro environment. The additional thing I will say is, people that have unfortunately, been made redundant lost, their job has been laid off, you know, I’m in that boat at the moment. I think you’re in a lot better of a position to get a job. If you are truly in the ecosystem. If you’re vocal if people know that you’re competent in your role. If they see that application come in, they’re going to be a lot more likely to move you forward and application process or even reach out to you. Right, like I’ve had a couple of people reach out to me like, oh, by the way, we’re hiring without even me submitting an application. Right. So that’s the other thing I would say is by being in the ecosystem, by giving back, that sort of stuff will start to come to you will will dogs joining the podcast as well, currently in the in the background. But yeah, that’s kind of the point I would say was like, just think about, think about giving back because you never know when the worst might happen. And in those cases, like it’s a really good thing to fall back on if you’ve got that community already.

Will Taylor 11:51

Yeah, and you’re an example of that. I’m an example of that. And the best like, scenario that I can describe is, when I was let go from my last role, I applied to maybe six or eight different positions, none of them got back to me, because I was probably put in some resume system. And you know, maybe I didn’t set it up in the most ideal way. But I still had six to eight introductions for new roles. Because when I made a post on LinkedIn, there were people, I’m not gonna say scrambling to pick me up. But there were people who said, Okay, well, you know, I trust will to be able to do the job. And I know of this position. So I’m going to make that introduction. And I would say like, just as a comment, you don’t even need to necessarily create content all the time. You can be, you know, in the actual conversations that can just be one on one conversations, if you have enough of those, your networks going to grow, you’re going to meet a bunch of people. And I have a friend actually, who maybe posts once a week, and it’s always really good content. But he’s so well connected, that when something bad happened, which it did happen to there were, you know, advisor opportunities just flooding right in, and like people jumping right on it, because although he wasn’t creating content, which is one way to live in the ecosystem, he was just so well connected by having so many conversations with people and doing the work to build those relationships. And it’s, you know, we’ve described so many benefits here, there’s the individual benefits, you know, regardless of your position, whether you’re in partnerships or not, there’s the actual subject matter expert benefit as well. Where you can really learn the topic, there’s the partnering benefit, and then there’s the brand awareness for the business as well, where you really build that robust amount of trust within the ecosystem, because you’re showing up because people want to trust people, they don’t want to trust brands, because there’s no face or emotion to them.

Ben Wright 13:59

Yeah, and I don’t know, I don’t know who I’m trying to think you posted this the other day. No, I have no idea actually. But they made some posts, which was like if I was a marketing team today, and my advertising budget obviously isn’t working or isn’t performing the way that I wanted it to. Would you not pay or incentivize your employees to start interacting in these communities? Right, like start posting on LinkedIn start being involved in partnership leaders or reg genius, or pavilion or wherever you play? Right? Like, would you not rather invest money in people to be in these communities? have these conversations be visible? And I truly think like that is the future for a lot of marketers like for me Community Market marketers. There probably are some out there I don’t know of any but like Zoe Hartsfield spec it, right. She cheats. She does that job, right. She’s out there. She goes to events she meets people. That for me is the future of of marketing in general is like how do you get people into the ecosystems where your customers are? Be a voice be somebody they know? Because ultimately that’s going to be far more impactful than a silly LinkedIn lead, LinkedIn ad that pops up or a Google ad that pops up, right? Like, in fact, I’d be more likely to think if partner hacker didn’t add. My thought wouldn’t be, oh, I need Partner hacker my thought would be Oh, doesn’t we’ll take a look at work apart and a hacker like, maybe I should join me. And so I think, I think for me, that’s the the thing that’s happening just broadly in terms of marketing at the moment is, let’s put more focus on community marketing, and anybody that says things so that this like, I would have employees really focus on that and pay him incentivize them, right, like use that million dollar advertising budget that’s not working anymore, and invest in your employees to go out and be be part of the ecosystem.

Will Taylor 15:42

Yeah, and there’s all those auxilary benefits that we mentioned, as well. And so let’s say they are ready to make that investment, or at least encourage them employees to live and engage in the ecosystem. What are some tactics? we’ve alluded to some but what is you know, step one of becoming more engaged in the ecosystem? What are your thoughts on if you were to advise someone or start your own team and encourage them?

Ben Wright 16:08

It’s really interesting, but like the gym have been has this watering hole analogy, which is like, be in all the places that your customers are, wherever, wherever the events or media or groups. And I think you could do the same for the organization specifically, like, let’s say, in partnerships, you can easily map out like, okay, here are where all of our customers are, you should be people that we partner with. If there’s places such as communities, you know, I use partnership leaders again, or there are events or there are, I would just say, get out and get them in front of those people, right. And the easiest way can be simply LinkedIn. Like, I know, I keep mentioning LinkedIn. But for me, I think I saw a statistic the other day, it’s like the second largest social media platform now it has like 60 million daily users like, you can reach anybody in the world, on LinkedIn, at any position, right? Like, I’ve been VPS, CEOs, CMOs, and they respond, like When have you ever had that type of ability before. And so start small, even if you want to get them posted on LinkedIn, but then haven’t given back to the community, encourage them to have one call a week with somebody in their industry, right? Encourage them to get out talk to other people make it part of their bonus structure, or how you metric and like, well, I want you as my partner manager to have one interesting conversation with another partner manager each week and report back on it simple, right? Like nice, easy way. But to your point, what that does is it gets your name out there, gets you connected with other people. And from that an immense amount of learning. So it’s almost like a learning development activity as well as business development, right. And so that’s a simple way, get them posted on LinkedIn, and set, advise them to do that. And then pay for memberships in these communities pay for membership, or partnership leaders pay for membership or pavilion pay for, you know, getting involved in these communities. And again, have them doing that once a week post once a week in that community ask a question, answer a question, right? It doesn’t have to be rocket science. And it really isn’t. But yeah, like I said, as a manager actively invest or encourage people to get involved and really dive in, I would say,

Will Taylor 18:13

Yeah, like that idea of making it a metric. And even part of the incentive structure, because then people are obviously going to be incentivized, but then also allowing the team to track because, you know, there’s all this talk about dark social, and actually had this thought today where they were talking about I was on a webinar, and they were talking about how it’s hard to track dark social. And then I thought to myself, well, yeah, it’s hard to track the, you know, after effects. But it’s not hard to track your activities, and then you know, the overall impact over time, which is still harder to attribute. But you’re at least showing that, hey, we did these activities, and this was the general results on the business. So we should, you know, test doing that more, Does that have an increased effect, I think tracking those activities is one way to actually apply a metric around it. And the qualitative information that is not really measurable, I think will be immensely beneficial for, again, going back to like getting customer feedback, or you know, your prospective buyer feedback, that’s going to be the most robust place to get it. And so I really liked that. And the other color I’d add there is get into speaking engagements. So if you are comfortable speaking on webinars or podcasts, then don’t wait to be invited, go reach out to them and say, hey, I want to be on your podcast. You know, if you’re listening to this, you want to be on this podcast, reach out to us, we will more than likely have you on and be more than likely to engage with you. And you know, that’s how the relationship started. And who knows, like we could either partner we could do business together. You know, one of us could be a mentor, you could be our mentor. So the opportunity is right really, really out there and in front of you where, you know, the speaking engagements, I think that is one of the most important ones that I would say, as well that that is going to be a differentiator for the future. You know, if we have a bunch of creators on LinkedIn, how do you stand out? Well, you can communicate so much by the king and using video and like going on a webinar, versus, you know, the Daily Post, again, those are still good, it’s a good medium, but there’s much more of an emotional relationship that can be developed through doing something like a speaking engagement. And then think of it like this, you could eventually get on stage and talk at, you know, a conference. And not only is that overall a good accomplishment for someone’s career, but one, it gives you some great skills and to the impact that that can have for your audience is going to be much more than, you know, only a one off conversation. Again, those are still very important. But I would urge anyone to actively reach out to seek those speaking engagements. And so let’s wrap on some of the things the key things. So you mentioned, having one conversation a week. And so I always like to tell people spend 30 minutes on Monday, in a community on LinkedIn, just trying to network looking for, you know, mentor, or just like a networking opportunity with someone who’s in your similar space or in a similar role. And then schedule that for a Friday for 30 minutes in the afternoon, or the morning, depending on time zones, that over, you know, 52 weeks could be immensely beneficial. And the other thing posts something once a week to get started, start building that habit. And I think you’ll you’ll do really well. And then when you’re ready for those speaking engagements, look at the, you know, watering holes, the popular podcasts, the places that run webinars or events reach out to those people, even if there’s nothing planned, you know, partner Acker has some events in the future that we’re definitely going to run. But let’s say someone in the partnership space wants to go and speak at that event. Well, the views come to me and you say, hey, well, I want to go talk on one of your protractor events, I’m gonna say, great, you know, what are some of the topics you love? Oh, you love, you know, these three? Great, well, I’m gonna suggest that to the team, and I’m, you know, probably got a bank of speakers that I can put it in an Excel sheet, which does exist, and so actively pursue those things. And, again, it what I just described that all of that does not take that much time, you know, all of that could take you two hours in a week. And that could be game changing for your knowledge. Any other thoughts to add there been?

Ben Wright 22:48

Nothing, that’s as fine like, don’t, don’t try and boil the ocean, don’t try and do everything at once. But tools point, like just pick one or two things like have that one conversation and post once thought, Uh, I mean, I always convince people to do do a 30 day challenge on LinkedIn, when you post every day for 30 days, and just see the impact, they can have, like really simple, but just say to yourself in January, I’m gonna post for every day, I’m gonna post every single day, right? Like, every single day, some type of content related to your field, you’re an SDR, right about cold calling, if you’re a partnership manager, right about building a program, whatever your niche is, pick that write about it, you’ve got something that somebody else wants to know. And so do that 30 days, see the impact, quantify it, and I can guarantee that like, there’s a lot of opportunity that will just come out of those days that will that will encourage you to continue.

Will Taylor 23:38

Agreed. And I just had the thought. If you have a conversation with someone, you could write a piece of content about that make it super easy, right after you have that conversation, or, Hey, if you listen to this, you could give three bullet or three points summary of what you took away. That’s easy content for the things that you consume. So there’s a lot of creative ways I’m sure we’re going to do something in the future on this. But that is it for our episode today. Thank you so much for listening. And if you do want to connect with people reach out to benriach we are very open. We love speaking to new people all the time. And if you’re a regular listener, we already know you can reach out as well. But otherwise, thank you so much for listening. That’s another episode of How to partners

Multiple Contributors 25 min

Howdy Partners #17: Living in the Ecosystem

Strategic partnership professionals continue to drive buzz around living in the ecosystem. The guys dig into exactly that and shed some light on the communities that are building momentum around ecosystems and partnerships.

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