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How we won the business partnership lottery: 4 stories about 4 fabulous people #BLESSED

How we won the business partnership lottery: 4 stories about 4 fabulous people #BLESSED

We recently launched an eGuide to help small businesses find genuine service providers in our industry.

Website developers, graphic designers, SEO specialists, commercial photographers, Google Ads consultants and so on. 

And we relied heavily on the expertise of our close business partners to produce it. 

I assure you though, ‘business partners’ is not a term I use lightly. They’re not randoms we met at a weekly business networking group one time. 

They’re people we work with day in and day out, who are integral to the success of our own business. People who we refer our clients to with 100% confidence every time.

Here are four (very personal) stories about how I met four of our closest business partners – and why we’ve never let them go since. 

DONNA: From PA volunteer to golden graphic design partner

Donna (of Iconography) and I met in 2010… at school. Well, our kids’ school to be precise.

We both joined the school’s Parents’ Association to volunteer our time and respective skill sets. I was the school’s go-to wordsmith. And Donna, their go-to graphic designer.  

So naturally, we found ourselves working together on all types of projects over that time. Posters, billboards, school newsletters, advertisements – you name it. 

And, as it fortuitously turned out, it was a match made in creative heaven. 

Finally, a designer who just got it. A designer who got me. Even then I knew that graphic designers of Donna’s calibre and experience don’t come along every day. 

So I threw her a client project at the very first opportunity. 

And here we are, 11 years later, working more closely together than ever before. 

Why?

She always understands my briefs (even when they’re gibberish). 
She thinks through everything with incredible commercial acumen.
She’s genuinely interested in our clients’ businesses.
She sometimes tweaks a word or two to make our copy even better.
And, her first drafts hit the mark – every time. 

Whatever the project, whatever the brief, we can always rely on Donna to deliver.

She’s an indispensable part of the RM family. 

SARI: Dazzling digital designer… and lifelong friend

I began working with Sari of Betsee Creative in 2016. But this was no chance meeting.

By this time in my career, I had been writing website copy for more than 10 years. And I had had it up to HERE seeing my clients’ quality content plastered over crappy-looking websites. 

So I thought of a solution: Why don’t I find a wonderful website designer/developer to partner with? 

Sure, I had worked with a few developers who were okay. But I was looking for more than okay. I was looking for something special

Someone special.   

So I scoured social media platforms like nobody’s business. Panned through portfolios. And Googled like a boss. Yup, I was a woman on a mission. 

That’s when I found Sari.

Straight up, I could see that she met my fundamental criteria: she knew how to design and build beautiful websites that were also affordable, easy to use and highly functional.

But it wasn’t just her work that drew me in. It was Sari herself. 

Her personality. Her positivity. Her professionalism. (When it comes to Sari, ‘special’ doesn’t even cut it.)

Today, five years on, Sari and I have a deep working relationship that just gets better by the day. We have collaborated on too many projects to count. And I honestly can’t imagine our business without her. 

Even better, in Sari, I found more than a business partner. I found a lifelong friend.

We brunch, power walk, gasbag, laugh, cry, vent, confess, listen and share. 

And as we’ve watched each other’s businesses grow over the years, we have also been each other’s biggest supporter and confidante.  

If you haven’t had the pleasure of working with Sari, you’re missing out. That’s a promise. 

GABY: Grade 5 seating companion and SEO superstar

So for this one, I have to take you back in time. Way back.

To 1984. When I was in Grade 5.

There I was, sitting in class one day – a shy, impeccably behaved young girl (hard to believe now, I know!) – when my teacher suddenly announces a reshuffle of the seating arrangements. 

The catch? Every girl would be placed next to a boy. And every boy next to a girl (well, obviously).

I can still feel my heart racing at the thought of having to sit next to any one of those loud and obnoxious boys in my class.  

As far as I was concerned, there were no good outcomes. It was a futile game of lottery – where there were no winning numbers.

Except I was wrong. 

There was one winning number. His name was Gaby Silver. And for once, finally, it was my lucky day. I was miraculously placed next to the one and only ‘nice’ boy in the class. (Who also happened to be super smart and conscientious. Now that’s what I call a win-win.)

I don’t remember much about him after that fateful day. Only that he left the school at the end of Grade 5. And that was that. 

Fast forward 35-odd years and Gaby’s name pops up one day in my LinkedIn invitations. His title? SEO copywriter and specialist. 

BOOM! 

Yep! I just happened to be on the lookout for a new SEO partner for our business. 

A long lunch meeting ensued. And Grade 5 reminiscing aside, we had plenty to talk about as fellow business owners and self-confessed word nerds.

But more importantly, I was relieved to finally be face-to-face with an SEO specialist who wasn’t full of it. No spin. No jargon. Just straight-talking insights and advice that actually made sense.

Gaby is now our SEO specialist of choice. (And yes, he still also happens to be the ‘nice’ boy I remember.)

Want a non-nonsense SEO guy sitting beside you every day? Gaby’s your man. 

KELLEE: Long-lost (glamorous) friend and PR/digital marketing maestro

This story starts at the turn of the millennium.

I had just (reluctantly) moved to Sydney so that my partner could take up a job that was too good to refuse.

I had also begun a new job myself. In the online department of a major magazine publisher. (It was a very glamorous environment, which I was not all prepared for… or bred for.)

With no family and very few friends in Sydney, I was hoping to form some personal connections at work. People that I had chemistry with. But that didn’t happen. 

Until that is, Kellee Cruse – a tall, striking, former Melburnian – walked through those doors.  

And although she was still way more glamorous than me, it was friendship at first sight. 

We discovered sushi together (it was the year 2000, you guys). Shared cabs to all those launch parties that cool magazine people get to go to. We even saw Kylie in concert together. 

Not only did I love having her as a friend. I also respected her as a colleague and fellow marketer. She was the real deal, professionally.  

But then, when I moved back to Melbourne a couple of years later, we gradually fell out of touch. We followed each other on LinkedIn. And that was the extent of it.

Now, let’s jump to mid-2020 when one of my clients asked me if I knew of any social media marketers who could run a campaign to promote their luxury home-office pods. I knew a few social media people, but none I could comfortably recommend.  

Until suddenly, a little LinkedIn penny dropped.

Kellee Cruse. Now a PR and digital marketing professional… who happens to specialise in the luxury property and accommodation sector? Seriously!

A very long phone call later, and it was like the last 20 years had never passed. We literally picked up where we left off. 

Even better, our client LOVED Kellee’s work. She delivered incredible results for their campaign. And they have thanked me many times over for the invaluable introduction.

I am so happy to be up close and personal with Kellee’s talents again. True marketers like her are a rare breed these days, that’s for sure!

Need a digital marketer and/or PR professional who genuinely knows her stuff?

Kellee. Is. The. Bomb. 

Nice stories, Vikki. But what’s your point?

Fair question. Because if you know me at all, you know that I do try to share some wisdom whenever I can. 

So here goes. Two key takeaways. One for each side of the recommendation fence.

  • Before you HIRE a service provider because of a recommendation, ask the person who made that recommendation some questions. How do you know this provider and for how long? Are you prepared to vouch for them? And above all, Would you use them for your own business?  

  • Before you GIVE a professional recommendation, remember that the people you recommend are a direct reflection of your own reputation. So, unless you’re 100% confident in their skills and professional integrity, recommend with caution.
     

Wait! Before you go…

It would be remiss of me not to mention our other core business partners. We also recommend these people to our clients without hesitation. And engage them for our own business.

They too are the best in their fields.

And, if you haven’t done so already, go ahead and download our eGuide. You won’t be sorry.