If you want to improve as a human being, most people would advise you to surround yourself with human beings that are better than you.

Basically, if you want to improve at any human skill, the same advice applies.
Entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, once stated that, “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

If this applies to personal development, shouldn’t it apply to business development as well?

I think so.

When I started Wahooly back in 2011, one of our early goals was to partner with a company called, Klout. At that time, Klout was at its height of popularity, used by literally millions of people.

For the uninitiated, Klout measured your influence online and assigned each person a score, which they aptly named the Klout score.

Given our business model, it was super important that we had the most “influential” people using our platform.

Much like any rationale human might wonder why someone more successful would hang out with them, we wondered the same thing as a business. Why would Klout, who has millions of users, 100′s of employees and a ton of success want to partner with a startup that had yet to even build a product?

That question plagued us to the point of never reaching out.

However, as a result of the hype that we were able to generate, we were lucky enough to have Klout reach out to us. Within the next 30 days, we went from approximately 7,000 user signups to over 26,000. We ended up being only the second startup behind Spotify to partner with the platform.

Because of Klout, our profile skyrocketed almost overnight. We generated a never ending stream of press attention, investors were reaching out almost daily and we become a legitimate business--all as a result of becoming the average of our relationship.

About a month ago, I reached out to the head of marketing for Ridgid Tools, the premium tool brand you see at every Home Depot store across America. My email to him was the following:

Not sure if I told you, but I run a small but growing beef jerky subscription business called, Stickinabox.com.

I’ve got a big ask of you. I realize that you’re the big brand and I’m the little guy, but I also know you have a soft-spot for me and Minnesota. :)

Could we figure out a way to do any kind of cross-promotion? Tool guys love jerky, so I know they totally align. Basically asking for my big break from you, but I have some ideas that make sense:

I went on to list four different possibilities for partnering together. And, for the record, we’ve worked together previously and he’s originally from my home state.
Much to my surprise, he agreed.

Here’s this gigantic brand that has agreed to partner with a tiny beef jerky subscription business, thus drastically increasing our relevance and exposure. I was floored.

The results of “hanging out” with Ridgid are yet to be seen, but without a doubt, it’s already leveled us up.

Without coming across as too shameless of a promotion, we’ve kicked off our partnership this month, which you can find on our homepage.

These two examples are the power of partnering up. Granted, it also means that both of those companies have partnered down, but that’s the advantage you have when you’re on top. They can afford to “pay it forward” so to speak. Plus, they both had their reasons as well.

Bottom line, if you want to be a better person or a better company, surround yourself with those that are better than you. And, once you’re where you want to be, do it for someone else.