In the past year, we’ve heard some amazing success stories of leaders who took their business to the next level by simply being committed to building and empowering their network of partners.
And we want to start sharing these stories with you, because we’re sure they’ll inspire you, too.
As an entrepreneur and CEO, meeting our customers is definitely my favorite thing to do. I recently met Ashley Whitlatch, Prezi’s Head of Global Programs & Partnerships. After a long lunch, and hearing about her unique approach to managing Prezi’s Evangelism programs, I felt her story needed to be told – a story about how investing in Prezi’s network turned it into a global success.
First of all – meet Ashley. She helped to build Prezi’s global evangelism and Experts programs, and she’s a rockstar presenter, too. She’s been a guest speaker at Harvard, Oxford, MIT and UC Berkeley. She even closed a $100MM donation of Prezi software to U.S. public high schools, as part of the White House and U.S. Department of Education ConnectED Program!
Then, we all know what Prezi is all about. As Ashley says, they are “THE presentation tool to use to make a lasting impression.” And they have over 65 million users.
So what’s their secret sauce for growth?
Over the last four years, Prezi invested in creating evangelism programs. For example, there is the student ambassador program – across 33 countries globally, student ambassadors are spreading the word about Prezi, while gaining valuable marketing and agile startup experience. They become campus leaders. And some of that talent pool even joined Prezi’s team.
And then there is the Prezi Experts program, made up of professionals who lead corporate training, or who design templates and keynote presentations. They depend on Prezi for their livelihoods. Prezi lists 60 Experts on their Prezi Experts microsite, working for end users in 17 languages.
So yes – a major part of Prezi’s growth strategy is all about their programs and building symbiotic relationships that empower the success of their ambassadors and Experts.
Now, here’s how Prezi invests in their ambassadors and Experts and turns their network into a global success.
Ashley’s approach reflects Prezi’s best practices on how to empower a successful ecosystem.
She is committed to building strong relationships with her network of ambassadors and experts that will spark a sense of leadership, success for both sides, and the spread of ideas.
So how can you apply that “secret sauce” lesson to your network? Prezi’s philosophy of empowering their partners to succeed applies to any network for your business. Whether your partners are experts, resellers, independent freelancers, third party developers, affiliates, evangelists, or ambassadors.
After all, to succeed in the #NetworkedEconomy, businesses must learn to unlock the power of many.
My top 4 tips you can apply from Prezi’s Experts program:
1. Identify your ecosystem of partners.
Prezi’s growth strategy is honestly all about identifying the ecosystem of people who rely on Prezi in some way. Ashley identified students who are already campus leaders, and professionals who already leverage Prezi to build their careers as independent consultants and resellers. Then she invests in those Prezi ambassadors and Experts, knowing that their success is aligned with Prezi’s success.
Now ask yourself – what is your ecosystem of people who will be motivated to partner with you? Or is there a potential ecosystem that you can cultivate over time?
2. Empower the success of your partners.
Both the Prezi ambassador and Experts program are a major amplifier of Prezi’s team. By empowering their ambassadors and experts, Prezi’s reach is exponentially amplified by the authentic voice and reach of their partners. Understanding your partners’ own career motivations and success will enable you, too, to provide them with the right help, guidance and training for mutual success. For example, Prezi exposes students to startup marketing experience and provides mentoring to improve their leadership skills, and Experts are able to show their clients that they are vetted by Prezi and trustworthy.
Ask your own partners – what defines their success? And then ask yourself – what defines your success? I bet they overlap. Now, put yourself in their shoes and invest in their ability to achieve their goals, too.
3. Open a two-way conversation.
Yes, you want to be able to communicate critical updates and make sure your partners are following through. But they probably also want access to you and to the rest of the partner network. Facilitate both 1-on-1 and group conversations, and build strong relationships with the individuals who make up your ecosystem, like Prezi did with their Experts program, because it will nurture your network relationships.
4. Get their feedback.
Now focus on their side of the conversation about your product or service. Ask them about the audience they are reaching on your behalf, just like Prezi gets feedback from their Experts. They’ll feel valued, and you’ll get insights towards your product development and marketing efforts.
In summary – to unlock your own growth, first identify your ecosystem, then empower them to succeed, and nurture your network relationships.
We hope you’ll be inspired to be a real mobilizer – to spark leadership, the spread of ideas, and the success of your amazing partners.
Sharon, CEO of Mobilize