Collaboration can mean a date with a used car salesman where you’re bound to get screwed over.

But there’s a way to make it work and fun.

But first, let’s clear up the full definition of the word so there is no ounce of misunderstanding. According to Mr. Webster, “collaboration is to work with another person or group to achieve something that benefits both parties“.

Collaboration between direct sellers and network marketers

If you’re going to collaborate with other direct sellers and network marketers, it’s important to know what to expect from this arrangement: what you can provide and what you want as an exchange. If this is not clarified early on, the result will be vague and problematic resulting in a destroyed relationship.

To avoid problems, here are some key points to keep in mind:

1. Work with someone who’s growing their business. Someone who’s actually been developing their business for a while and is now ready to expand their influence through collaboration. Oftentimes, we want to work with someone who’s starting out to encourage and help them out. But I’ve never seen that worked out.

2. Identify that thing that will be equally beneficial to both parties. What is the value? If possible, put a price on it.

For example, swapping!

Swapping is one way. For collaboration to work, you’ll need to make sure you’re mutually satisfied. The items/services need to be equal (approximately.) You can’t always measure it but get as close as you can. I love swapping with people in direct sales when it’s for something I need or really want. I’d say laundry detergent, I’m going to buy it anyway. I’d rather have high-quality, non-toxic from Norwex, for example. So if somebody wants to buy, let’s say a good amount (don’t swap for 20 dollars!) then it’s a good way to collaborate. Honestly, that’s why I say work with people who are growing their business so they can swap with a higher amount.

Another example is a collaboration I’ve started with someone who sells Color Street. I’m going to buy $100 of Color Street nails from her. She’s going to buy $100 of Epicure. We will each post on social media with the other person’s products once a week. We’re not swapping starter kits, we post for each other and refer people to one another. So there are a variety of ways to swap collaboratively; just make sure you are both in agreement.

3. Have a goal. Why are you collaborating? In the case of the Color Street lady, I am collaborating with. She’s in the US. I want to grow my Epicure customer base and team in the U.S. For her, the goal is to grow Colours Street in Canada because I just opened up here. So for me, it’s one post a week and I already have pictures with the nails because I do cooking classes with the nails on. So it’s not any extra effort for me. My 100$ expense for nail strips “gives” me 100$ of sales with Epicure. And we’re referring people back to each other.

4. Have a timeframe. Preferably not too short, at least a month, especially in direct sales–maybe three months. And to have clear, easy, simple things to do–not unspecified collaboration, like “let’s just refer people to each other.” That’s just too vague and often ends up being unsatisfactory for both parties.

Keep this in mind

In the beginning, new direct sellers or network marketers should be focussing on the core activities of building the business such as sponsoring and selling and booking, not launching into collaborations. Get your feet wet and stably on the ground, then work on growing your business by collaborating with other people to expand your reach and influence.