How can I find people with complementary skills to partner with?

Note: This was originally published in an other website called THINKsulting which I am phasing out.

An Aspiring Enrepreneur (name withheld by request) asks:

Entrepreneurship requires different pillars of strengths and skills.   One person cannot possess all that.  For example, I love to conceptualize an idea with market relevancy and technically build it out to make it a reality.  But I dont necessarily have marketing/sales skills.  I believe I should partner up with someone who has those skills/experience and contacts, so I am waiting “actively”.  What would you suggest me to do differently given my situation?

My Take:

Dear Aspiring Entrepreneur,

I think you have the first assumption correct – one person cannot process all the skills. I say that if you want to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, you need a team but you can do it all alone if you want to climb the hill behind your home (OK, unless Mt. Kilimanjaro is behind your home, of course)

Now how do you find the right people that you want to partner with you?

That’s a (proverbial) million dollar question. However, from your question I see that you are “actively” waiting. First of all, I have a question on that statement. If you are “active” than you are not waiting and if you are waiting then you are not actively looking.

Technicalities aside, I think one of the best ways you think of is to do things that will make you “be found” by those right people. Here are a few specific steps:

1. Determine the space you want to be in.

2. Research the latest startups in that space

3. Build relationships with key people over there (right now, it’s easy – start engaging with them via social media)

4. Contribute by conceptualizing things that these startups will benefit from and share them with those that you have built relationship with.

5. Not everyone is interested in unsoliciated contributions at that level but you will definitely catch the attention of some of them.

6. In parallel, establish your thought leadership in the space (via your blog, writing guest posts, on Twitter, speaking at events etc..)

If I can summarize this in one sentence – “find any and all opportunities to contribute without adding a lot of cost to the recipient.”

The “without adding a lot of cost to the recipient” is VERY important. For example, if you tell someone new that you want to share some new concept they will benefit from – in their mind they will be thinking “I don’t know how good this is going to be and how much time I have to spend listening to this. Besides, we have a strategy team that is paid to do all this. Why should I be wasting time…” and so on. You have to find ways to breakthrough these barriers. Your personal brand and the way you build your relationships will help.

Two resources to look at:

1. Personal Branding for Technology Professionals (PDF, 40 pages)

2. Lasting Relatinoships (PDF, 20 pages)

All the best!