Internet marketing can be a lonely lifestyle. Sure, there are hundreds of
forums, blogs, and conferences where you can connect with others, but even when you’ve been around for a while you can feel like you’re all alone in your business. When you have little or no in-person connection with others who are in your position, you can start to feel like you are the only one on the Internet who’s worried about how Google’s latest decisions will affect your page rank, or who’s having trouble updating to the latest version of WordPress. You can forget that there are thousands of others in a similar situation, asking themselves the same questions, struggling with the same issues. Not only that, but those in your day-to-day life, who know you in the “offline world” do not have a clue what you’re talking about, and oftentimes tend to bring more negativity than helpfulness to the picture even when they try to be on your side. Unfortunately, that can make you feel even more alone, especially when you have a setback and no one to help pull you through or to even just say “that happened to me, too!”
That’s where having an accountability partner (or a small accountability group) can save the day.
Definition: Accountability partners are formalized relationships with one or
more people who help keep you on task. Here’s what Wikipedia.org says:
An accountability partner is a person who coaches another person in terms of helping the other person keep a commitment. (The term) was originally used in connection with weight loss programs in the 1960’s.
This special report is intended to familiarize you with the ins and outs of
creating and leveraging accountability partnerships specifically for your
internet marketing business. You’ll get an overview of the benefits of
accountability partners, where to find potential partners, how to set up the
relationship, and more. Read on, and get ready to take your business to the
next level! The phrase “accountability partner” is quite broad and encompasses a lot of territory. At its most basic, an accountability partner is someone you set up a formal relationship with, who will help provide support for your online business creation and growth. He or she is an unpaid consultant, someone you agree to work with to provide mutually beneficial support. In its simplest terms, it’s like having a business consultant who you don’t pay. Instead you trade for each others consulting services. You make it your goal to help each other to succeed. Accountability partners are like personal trainers for your business – different trainers have different personalities and different specialties. And you have different needs, too. If you’re at the beginning of your business creation, you may need someone to help cheer you on. As you become more experienced and confident, you may need someone to push your boundaries and tell you when you’re slacking. Here are the main roles accountability partners can fulfill: Cheerleader. This type of partner can boost your confidence, give you assistance when you need it, and help you celebrate your successes. Think of running a marathon and having someone to hand you a cool drink at Mile 5, hold up a sign with your name on it at Mile 16, and greet you with a towel and a bag of ice at the finish line. Co-traveler. Co-travelers are at approximately the same point in their journey as you are. They’re like students in the same year in high school or college; you’re learning the same topics and implementing the same strategies and tools. Sometimes you help them, sometimes they help you, and sometimes you just muddle along, secure in the fact that you’re both in the same place. (Picture a “Study Buddy”.) Drill sergeant. Everyone from Oprah to Olympian Michael Phelps has a trainer or coach who pushes them just a bit farther than they think they can go. Drill sergeant accountability partners serve as a whip-cracking, rear-end-kicker to keep you on task to the goals you’ve set and committed to. Every once in a while (hopefully, a very LONG while), things go nuts. Plans derail, projects fail, or you just want to tear your hair out because of technical issues. When Murphy’s Law proves true, you may just need to vent to someone who knows what you’re going through. That person can be your accountability partner. Brainstorming partner. Wondering what headline will convert best? Need some thoughts on what to offer as an opt-in “bribe” on your new mailing list? Trying to figure out the shortest path between Point A and Point B? Grab your accountability partner and start brainstorming. Some of these roles probably appeal to you more than others. It all depends on your own personal needs and personality. Remember that your accountability partnership is determined by you and your partner – it can incorporate whatever you decide, including 6 AM jogging buddy, lunch date, or blogging partner. First Things First: Setting up an Accountability Partnership Before you jump right in and ask your best friend to be your accountability partner for the rest of your natural-born life, there are several questions you want to ask yourself before committing to a long-term relationship. These questions will help you figure out what you want in an accountability relationship. Take your time thinking through your answers; the only mistake you can make is to jump in too fast and commit to something that’s not right. 1. Where are you in your business? Different business stages require different support. Do you need someone to brainstorm ideas? To cheer you on? To check in with to see if you’ve accomplished your weekly goals? Or to remind you of what your priorities need to be? Different goals might call for different personality types. 2. What timeframe are you looking at? Do you want someone to accompany you to the next stage of your business (for instance, until you get your product launched), or are you looking for someone to work with for the next quarter as you see how far you get? An accountability partnership will change over time, so plan to reassess the relationship regularly. Don’t start one and assume you’ll continue the formal relationship forever. Most will eventually run their course.
3. Who do you know?
Based on your needs in Question #1, do you have someone in mind for
your partner, or are you starting from scratch? What resources
(networking groups, online forums, etc.) do you have for finding a
4. How much can you commit?
Partnerships are two-way streets, where you give your partner as much
as he or she gives you. What can you offer, time- and resource-wise?
Are you willing to offer introductions and advice, or only “atta boy”
support? Don’t expect to get back much more than you provide.
5. What are your preferences?
Do you want to communicate only by email, or do you want in-person or
phone check-ins? Do you want someone who is in a similar industry to
you, or would you prefer someone who’s in a non-competing field? How
often would you like to check in?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be in a good position to start
evaluating potential partners. In the next few sections we’ll discuss some
options so you can determine which accountability partnership type will work best for you.
Live and In Person: An “IRL” Accountability Partner
Having an accountability partner you can get together with “in real life” (IRL)
adds a new dimension to your partnership. Knowing someone “in real life,” not just online or via phone, is very different than communicating virtually and it brings some nuances to the table that a virtual partnership wouldn’t. Here’s an overview of what you need to know about teaming up with an in-person accountability partner:
Pros: It’s much harder to blow off an in-person appointment with your buddy than a phone call or email-check in, so teaming up with someone you meet regularly for lunch or coffee can help keep you on task. Also, you may feel more comfortable with someone you know outside the computer screen. And don’t forget the benefit of getting out of the office and away from your desk – being in a new environment occasionally can re-energize you. Also, if your meetings are scheduled around walking or jogging you can kill two birds with one stone and get exercise while you brainstorm. One more thing: Because you’re in the same place at the same time, you can help each other with offline marketing, computer training, etc.
Cons: Because you’re meeting in the “real world,” you can get distracted and feel like you have to hold to societal niceties rather than just being laserfocused on your work issues – especially true if your partner is also a friend or colleague. Also, meeting in person isn’t always convenient, and can take more time than a virtual check-in – especially if you’re meeting for meals with your accountability partner. In addition, if you are looking for someone in your area, you have a much more limited pool to choose from. You can also face issues of personality – some traits that might not bother you online or over the phone could be irritating in person.
Suggestions: To avoid some of the cons above, make sure that both you and
your partner are committed to staying on topic and maximizing your time
together. Set an agenda for your meetings and stick to it. If you’re worried
that you might not hit it off with someone in person, set a trial period before committing to a long-term partnership. And, do not settle for someone just because he/she is convenient. Your time is valuable. Choose wisely.
If you take the time to think through the issues above, having an in-person
accountability partner can prove to be the perfect match, expanding your
horizons and giving you some much-needed time away from the computer.
Section Five: Is it Live or Memorex? Virtual Accountability Partners
In this world of online living, meeting friends – or even mates – online is no
longer outside the mainstream. We make little distinction between online
buddies and those who live across the street. And we often feel more
connected to these virtual friends than we do with the people we encounter in person. It makes sense to reach out to your online connections when looking for an accountability partner. Here are some points to consider:
Pros: Teaming up with a “virtual” partner is the ultimate in convenience. You don’t have to live near each other – or even in the same time zone – so your pool of potential partners is almost limitless. Also, you can keep your
conversations very targeted, and thereby cut down on the amount of time it takes to connect. If you correspond via e-mail, you can catch up when it’s
convenient for you, and not have to worry about coordinating schedules.
Cons: The anonymity of the internet means that people aren’t always what
they present themselves to be (just ask anyone who’s gone on a date with
someone they’ve met via on online dating service!). Your 45-year-old
marketing specialist could turn out to be a 12-year-old wunderkind with alaptop and too much spare time. Or worse, your accountability partner mayhave claimed to be making a certain amount online and so you take his or her advice – not knowing that she’s stretched the truth considerably and is really only making pennies. Also, connecting virtually makes it easier to drop the ball; the guilt for taking an extra day or two to respond to an email is nothing compared to standing your partner up for your weekly coffee meeting. Suggestions: The best way to protect yourself and make sure your partnership is a successful one is to really get to know your partner. Pick someone you’ve had a positive relationship with for a while, hopefully even someone who you’ve met in person at a seminar or conference, rather than hooking up with someone unknown. You’re going to be sharing details about your life and your business with this person, so take the time to establish a preliminary level of trust before baring your soul. You might even consider getting recommendations from some of the people they’ve worked with before or have known for a while. It may sound like overkill, but the risk is high enough to make the extra diligence worthwhile.
Finding an accountability partner online is extremely common and has proven successful for many marketers. It’s so easy to connect with people of a similar mindset that you probably already have several potential partners in your immediate online circle already.
My Buddy: Mentoring Partnerships
If you’re just starting out in online business or have very specific needs, you
may want to forego the traditional accountability partnership and choose to
work with a paid mentor instead (picture a Business Coach). Mentors, like
accountability partners, come in all shapes, sizes, experience levels,
specialties, and personalities. While you can expect to pay anywhere from
hundreds to thousands of dollars for the privilege of working with a mentor,
the relationship can earn you back your investment many times over, in saved time and sound business advice. Following are the basics of what you need to know about mentors:
Pros: You have someone completely focused on you and your needs, so you
can save a lot of time and effort. Because your mentor has successfully
navigated the path you’re treading, he or she can give you the benefit of their experience and save you a lot of time and money. Good mentors also often have wide networks and can share these connections with you. Hopefully your mentor has reached a level of success where he or she can help you to avoid mistakes and give solid advice. Too often, accountability partners are both at a level where they aren’t making money yet, so it’s a case of the blind leading the blind. Obviously you can avoid that situation by hiring a successful mentor to coach you down the road you’re on. Cons: Instead of “paying” for your partner’s assistance by reciprocating his or her support, you will pay with cash, so if you’re in the start-up phase and your wallet is a tad on the thin side, you may have trouble footing the bill. Also, mentors are, understandably so, biased to their own experiences. If something worked for them, they’re inclined to recommend it to you, even though another option may be a better fit. No matter whether you’re hiring the best “guru” in the business or a marketer who’s doing well who you look up to, never blindly follow advice for this very reason. Suggestions: Choose your mentor carefully! Make sure you resonate with him or her not just in terms of what they’ve accomplished, but in terms of their personality, ethics, and work style, too. Also, choose someone not just on what they tell you they’ve done right, but based on the mistakes they’re willing to share, too. Almost every successful business person, online and off, will tell you that getting a mentor was one of the best things they’ve done to advance their business rapidly. A great mentor can save you years and thousands of dollars in getting your business off the ground and growing, and can hold you accountable for your progress, too. The More the Merrier: Partners vs. Groups If one accountability partner is good, shouldn’t five or ten partners be even better? Well, sometimes, but certainly not in every case! Joining an accountability group can jumpstart your business and get you to radical profits more quickly than you had ever anticipated – if you pick your group wisely. Here’s how to make sure you end up surrounding yourself with people who can help guide you to success: Pros: Group accountability situations can be great for generating a huge variety of opinions from a number of different perspectives. You can experience more of a mastermind effect in a group situation. Also, the networking potential is enhanced exponentially when you add more contacts to the equation. And with a group set-up and multiple people to rely on, there should always be someone available for feedback – the chance of EVERYONE flaking on you is slim. The flip side of many ideas is that you can be inundated with opinions with no clear way to prioritize or choose between them. Also, because several people are involved, you and your partners can feel less committed to each other’s individual success, as you all share the responsibility. Also, you have the drawback of having more personalities involved and, therefore, a greater opportunity for conflict. Finally, it can be tougher to coordinated multiple people’s schedules to find a single time to “meet.” One other drawback: you can be inundated with requests to help other people and may lose time that you could be using to focus on your own business. Suggestions: As with the other approaches to accountability partners, choose your group members carefully! If you are taking charge of the group creation, have each potential member fill out a short questionnaire to gauge their interest, skill and business level, and willingness to commit to each other. Also, decide if you want members to be in similar industries or niches, or if there should be no overlap to avoid competition. You’ll also want to decide up front if new members will be voted in by the group or if there is one person in charge of deciding who gets added. Finally, set a minimum – and maximum – amount of time you will devote to the group, to ensure that no one is getting overburdened (and that no one is shirking their duties). Having an accountability group can be one of the quickest ways to get your online business up and running. The combined firepower and experience of a group of committed partners can give you the confidence and support you need. By now you should have a good overview of what accountability partnerships are and what kind might be best for you. It’s time to go over some ways to make sure that your relationship – whatever kind you choose – will work smoothly and successfully for both you and your partner. 1. Create the ground rules. It may seem silly to set out on paper the rules of engagement for your relationship, but writing down some details will help you avoid misunderstandings and confusion later. At a minimum, lay out … How often you will meet. (Frequency. Will you check in daily, weekly, monthly?) · Where/how you’ll meet. (Skype, phone, in person, etc.?) · What dates/times you’ll meet. · How long the meetings will be. (All in the group should be clear on this. If one person is expecting a 20 minute meeting and the rest of the members talk for 2 hours – there’s obviously some miscommunication.) The overall goal of the accountability partnership. (Is it accountability to meet your goals? Or a weekly support connection? Brainstorming? What’s the purpose of connecting? Make sure you’re on the same page.) The basic agenda for your meetings. (This schedule will help the meetings be more productive and less chatty.) · Requirements. (What happens if your partner misses several meetings in a row and thinks nothing of it? Do you have your requirements set?) · Expectations. (Is each member expected to bring a resource or question to the meeting? Make the preparation clear.) If you’re forming a group, the number of members (and how you’d decide to add more). Also decide if you’re open to communicating between meetings; are you willing to field phone calls or answer emails, or do you just want to confine your partnership to your regularly scheduled meetings? Either way is fine, as long as you agree on the boundaries. Decide specifically what you’d like to accomplish during your time with your accountability partner. Do you want to double your site’s traffic? Release new products? Create an e-course? Know what you’re going to aim for so your partner can remind you to stay on task and not get distracted.
one service via the web. You both download the Skype software and then can connect via voice or video. If you’re in different parts of the country or world, you can save a bundle on long distance by logging on to Skype. There’s even the capability to let the other person see your computer desktop while connected, which makes computer/software training a breeze. FreeConferenceCall.com. For the price of a long-distance call, you and your partner(s) can host your own private conference calls, no reservation needed. The system will record the call and allow unlimited downloads and playbacks. While the basic service is free, the site will only archive your most recent conversation; it’s replaced with each new call you conduct. You can upgrade to a paid option for more robust service. Ning.com. Create your own virtual private community, with the ability to share videos, images, and more. Options for chat, message boards, and a hosted blog are also available. Beginning in July 2010, Ning charges a nominal monthly fee to host sites. While you may not want to shell out for a group of two (a free private blog at Blogger.com or Typepad.com would work just as well), Ning is great for groups with several members. Google. Google offers a plethora of fantastic collaborative tools, from GoogleDocs (shared documents) to Google Calendar, to the latest Google Wave and Google Buzz. If you’re working with an accountability group, you can create a free email group at Groups.google.com. All are free. TweetChat.com. Need an impromptu chat room? Hook your Twitter account up to TweetChat, enter a unique hashtag (#), and start chatting with your partner(s). Beware: there can be a bit of a lag, and your tweets will be public for anyone to follow. But when the service is free, you can’t be too picky! While you may already be acquainted with many of these resources, you can look at them in a new way when considering using them as tools for your accountability partnership. It’s efficient when you can employ solutions you’re already using for multiple purposes. Next Steps After you’ve successfully worked with a partner for a while, you may be wondering what options you have for furthering your relationship. I’ve created this list of some of my favorite next steps: 1. Commit to another session. If you’ve completed six months together and like how things are going, sign on for another six months or a year together. If it’s working, keep it going! Set new, higher goals, and commit to helping each other meet those milestones. 2. Create a Joint Venture. After connecting with an accountability partner for some time, you get a pretty good sense of their strengths and weaknesses, and how they like to work. If your styles (and businesses!) seem compatible, you might want to think about creating a joint venture (JV) partnership. Think about teaching an online course together, or creating a case study of your partnership successes. Turn your experiences into cash! 3. Co-found a mastermind group. Are you ready to invite a few more friendly faces to join your band of two? As discussed in a previous section, accountability groups can be extremely powerful. And having two people who already know and are committed to each other to form the core of the group will help set the tone, as well as give you some tried-and-true ground rules for starting. 4. Meet and greet. If you’ve only been connecting remotely – online or by phone – think about taking your relationship to the “real world.” A great option is to meet up at one of the many excellent Internet marketing conferences or seminars around the world – I guarantee that when you meet each other in person, you’ll feel like you’ve known each other for years, even if you’ve just been corresponding via email for a few months. 5. Move on. It may seem a tad callous to just move on from a successful partnership, but it doesn’t mean you’re saying goodbye to the person. As your business enters different stages of development and you encounter new challenges, you may require a different type of accountability partner – and that’s okay. Think of a new way you can work together, or if you want to keep the relationship up but at a lower level of commitment, spread out your meetings (once a quarter is the minimum to keep the flow of things going). All healthy accountability partnerships – and businesses – change and grow over time. Recognizing the new stages you’re entering and honoring your current needs is a critical part of being a successful businessperson.
Through reading this report, I hope you’ve got some great ideas about how
accountability partnerships can enhance your online business. Whether you’re just starting your web-based journey or you’ve been online for years, accountability partners truly are one of the best investments of your time. It’s like having your own million-dollar mastermind group without investing the seven figures!
Creating an accountability partnership not only gives you the opportunity to get help in the areas you need support, it also lets you apply your knowledge and wisdom to someone else’s business, helping them reach new levels of success. You may find you like coaching others and may therefore add this skill as a revenue stream in your business. Many an online coach started by helping just one other person, and then leveraged that experience into a profitable income stream. Don’t be surprised if that happens to you!
Regardless of what type of accountability program you form, you can definitely grow your business quickly when surrounded with others who are committed to helping you succeed.Accountability partnerships are, after all, powerful things.
Here’s to your ongoing success. As always I hope this information has been helpful in realizing your dreams. Author- Marc Wijnants
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