6 Best Practices of Highly Effective, Introvert Friendly Collaborations



If you want it done right, do it yourself.

As an introvert, that attitude resonates with me. Introverts – those who recharge in solitude and tend to work best flying solo – and independence go hand in hand. It doesn’t mean that other people aren’t important to us; we simply are very intentional about who we invite into our inner world. We see it this way: people in = energy out. We can absolutely love those people, and they can still exhaust us.

It’s a common theme among introvert entrepreneurs. For a while, we save time, money, and relationships when we choose the do-it-yourself route. But at some point, when flying solo starts costing us time, money and relationships, we have to face the fact that two (or three, or four) heads might be better than one.

So how do we introverts invite others into our work in a way that doesn’t zap our energy?

A partnership between two introverts doesn’t mean you’re going to instantly understand one another and never have issues. Nor does pairing up with an extrovert mean automatic craziness. Either partnership combination can result in success or misery. What makes the difference is the degree to which you adhere to some best practices.

  1. Engage in Open, Frequent Communication

Establish consistent check-ins or process checks, whether it’s by email, phone, or in person. Having a set structure for regular check-ins is advantageous for the partnership and especially for introverts. Preparation time allows you to focus your thoughts and sets the stage for a more efficient, less energy-draining meeting.

  1. Identify and Challenge Assumptions

Personal assumptions were ingrained in our consciousness, long before we started our businesses. Challenge those assumptions, and allow your partner to do the same. In particular, identify any assumptions related to the, who, what, when, where, and why of the collaboration. Effective partnerships are based on clear role definition, with each person being 100 percent certain about his or her responsibilities.

  1. Share Expectations and Definitions of Success

As Peter Drucker remarked, “What gets measured gets done.” Successful collaborations have clearly defined measurements of success. The core metrics—financial, reach, engagement, growth, quality— should be outlined and agreed on. You don’t have to share every expectation; the more critical point is that you’re each aware of the other’s expectations and its level of importance to the partnership.

  1. Be Equally Invested

It might go without saying, but no assumptions means no assumptions: All of the partners need to be clear about their commitment to the collaboration from the start. Each person has to be equally invested, with the same to gain or lose as the other. An exception might be if you know from the beginning that one person might benefit more than the other, and you’re both in agreement with that.

  1. Come from Strength

Setting up your partnership for success means that you both believe success is possible. You’ve each experienced success on your own and are ready to expand your work in ways that will be mutually beneficial to others. This doesn’t mean everyone is Pollyanna and never feels fear. But an effective collaboration has the transparency and resilience to work through it.

  1. Have an Exit Strategy

It may be advisable to set a term limit on the partnership from the beginning. You can also consider drafting a “pre-nup” agreement before any financial or legal resources exchange hands. Clearly outline what will happen and how work, clients, customers, information, finances, and so on will be divided in the event of dissolution, whether planned or unexpected.

By following these practices, you’ll be well on your way to a successful and energizing collaboration.

Image credit: CC by susanrm8

About the author: Beth L. Buelow

Beth L. Buelow, ACC, is the founder of The Introvert Entrepreneur and author of The Introvert Entrepreneur: Amplify Your Strengths and Create Success on Your Own Terms. She serves as a guide to introvert entrepreneurs who want to amplify their strengths and build sustainable, energetically aligned businesses.

Beth is a professional coach, author, and speaker, is based in the Pacific Northwest and serves introverts worldwide. Her podcast, “The Introvert Entrepreneur,” was recently named as one of the top 25 business podcasts for entrepreneurs by Entrepreneur.com, and also was featured in the “Inspiring Women’s Voices” category on iTunes.

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