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Selecting the right colleagues and affiliates is a key success
strategy for any career path. Whether you work for an
organization or have created your own, the people with whom you
partner impact your results as well as your fulfillment and
reputation. Creativity also thrives in relationships with
complementary skills nurtured by mutual respect. Successful
partnerships and alliances depend on complete honesty, self-
assessment and awareness, open communication, and a dedication to
resolve conflicts on the part of all participants.

Over the course of my years as a career coach, I have cautioned
many clients against taking ill-suited jobs or joining forces
with partners where there may be a mismatch. I have seen a
pattern with many female entrepreneurs where two insecure women
team up together with the same weaknesses and a shaky business
plan. Disaster usually strikes and may even end in the courtroom.
If you are considering doing contract work or becoming an
employee of an organization, do your research. If the company
jerks you around in the hiring process or your intuition tells
you that it's all too "perfect", beware. You want to be connected
to the best people, products, and services. Desperation and the
impulse "to just get it done" reap dangerous liaisons. As a
business owner, there are huge differences between collaborations
and official partnerships. You can fulfill your needs for
collaboration with a variety of networks, team projects, success
teams, and other modalities. You don't have to make an alliance
official unless you have road-tested it and it makes sense
legally and professionally.

So if you have the "urge to merge", ask yourself these key

1) Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How much alone time
versus group time suits you?

2) What is your relationship pattern? Do have a string of
collisions in your past or a steady track record of positive

3) Of the collisions you have had, what part did you play in the
process? Pay attention to your vulnerable points.

4) What can a potential partner or employer do for YOU? What are
you hoping to gain with an alliance? Is it something you could or
ought to be doing yourself? For example, as we talked about last
month, we all need to learn how to self-market, but different
models support our intentions.

5) Are you confident that you can negotiate well on your
own behalf? If not, what data/skills/knowledge do you need
so you can?

6) Before you seek alliances, write a mock ad about what
you are seeking in another person or organization and
include all the necessary details such as integrity, work
hours, skills, personal style, etc. that are essential for
a positive outcome.

7) SHOP AROUND. Be picky and value yourself enough to take
your time. Know what you want and write down every
hesitation you uncover. As with any relationship, readiness
is key. Both parties have to be on the same wavelength at
the same time.

8) Set up an experiment with one project before you decide
about a long term affiliation. Trust is earned! Face up to
the truth - whatever happens. You can find the right people
and the best model for you, but be sure and subtract the
colleagues and organizations that fail YOUR test!


1. What kind of collaborations sound like FUN to you?

2. In what circumstances do you love to be in control and
when do you long for company and input?

3. Do a 360 feedback exercise on yourself and ask your
friends and lovers, co-workers, peers, associates, etc. how
you excel as a person and a professional and where you let
yourself and others down.

4. Then visualize attracting the right circle of influence
for YOU!

(c)2003 Gail McMeekin

About the Author
Gail McMeekin, LICSW is a national Career/creativity coach
and writer on personal, professional, and creative development.
Author of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable
Mentor and The Power of Positive Choices, both with Conari Press.
Subscribe to her FREE monthly email newsletter Creative Success
by clicking on her website:

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