If you’ve been following me online, you probably know that I love collaboration. I truly believe that getting outside of your own head and getting involved in a group, partnership or team of some sort can change your business for the better.

Collaboration is all about putting yourself out there, taking a chance on the notion that a team-approach will be more effective than doing it alone. After all, the underlying idea in all collaborative situations is that there’s something in the process that will help you learn, earn and/or grow.

There are many different ways you can collaborate, and the primary benefits of collaboration are obvious for the parties directly involved. But there’s also another reason to collaborate — the possibility of word of mouth marketing exposure.

It Starts with a Simple Collaboration

In most collaborative relationships, there are two groups that benefit — the parties directly involved in the collaboration, and the observers. Let’s look at a simple example.

Sally poses a question on a social network, asking for an online invoicing service recommendation. Joe replies back, sharing a list of three services he has personally used and loved. In this situation, Sally benefits because she gets the information she needs. Joe benefits because by answering Sally’s question, he is getting his name/business/website out there, and bolstering his reputation. The three companies Joe recommended also benefit from his testimonial.

Now, let’s say this exchange was viewed by 1,000 people.

The Power of Word of Mouth

Each of those 1,000 people are observers who now have learned something they didn’t know, gathered information about both Sally and Joe, and were potentially exposed to three new businesses.

Perhaps a few will now use the online invoicing services that Joe recommended. Maybe they will share the list of services with their own networks. Maybe the conversation will inspire them to do something different, or think in a new way. Or they may take the information they learned about Sally and Joe and use it to initiate a conversation, which may eventually lead to a sale, a partnership or a referral.

The benefits to Sally, Joe and the online invoicing companies will just keep adding up, as the information continues to be shared.

Use It (Wisely)

As a small business owner, you probably already know the benefits of word of mouth marketing. Even if the sharing happens on a small scale, the benefits will continue to exist outside of the initial situation. Think of Sally and Joe — who knows how many additional interactions their simple conversation could inspire. And that type of everyday collaboration happens constantly.

Of course, not every collaboration is public, and may not be noticed by others. But even the act of collaborating, if not the actual collaboration, can impact, inspire and educate those around you.

It’s probably not a good idea to enter into a collaboration simply for the marketing benefits. But if you’re already in a collaboration or you’re taking a collaborative approach with your marketing activities, why not make what you’re doing shareable and see what happens?