How to Triangulate Resources
The Problem: There is something you need to get done, but you do not have the resources or skills to accomplish it yourself and you can't think of anyone who you could directly trade resources or skills with. So you're stuck.
The Solution: You actually aren't stuck. The secret is in triangulating your resources, skills, and relationships. Consider yourself "Person A." Let's say that your colleague, "Person B," can provide the solution to your problem, but you cannot provide the solution to theirs. Consider that there is probably a "Person C" who has the solution to Person B's problem. And what if you have exactly the right resources to solve Person's C's problem and all that you ask of them is help Person B? That's called a successful resource triangle.
The Proof: Here are three personal and professional examples of resource triangles from my own life experiences.
1. MOVING DAY: To understand this story you need to know that while I have invested a lot of time developing my abilities to write music, tell stories and talk to strangers; I have invested little to no time in pretty much everything else. Which means I lack basic home maintenance skills...among other life skills. Last year I moved from one apartment in my complex to another. I needed to take apart my giant writing desk, move it across the apartment complex, and reassemble it. Obviously I lacked all the necessary skills. But remember how much time I invest in talking to people? A few weeks before my moving date, my neighbor mentioned to me that she wanted to learn how to play the piano. A week afterwards, I saw her boyfriend building a lending library for the apartment complex. He obviously had the skills that I needed. I told him that if he took apart my desk and moved it across the complex for me, I would match his time and give his girlfriend piano lessons. He agreed because he is a nice boyfriend, a nice neighbor, and their finances were combined so it helped him as well. I was able to leverage my strengths (randomly talking to people and teaching music) to fill in my weaknesses (everything else) and meet a personal goal (successfully moving my desk without learning any additional life skills).
2. CROWDFUNDING EVENTS: To understand this story, you need to know that I am producing an original musical in Austin, Texas that was performed three years ago as a staged reading in New London, CT. I needed to raise money to pay the production team salaries (lighting designer, sound designer, etc) and I needed to do it four months in advance of the production so that I could reserve their time. While I have a great community in Austin, I knew most of them did not have the resources to financially contribute to the show so far in advance. But they did have the ability and desire to show up for events that I planned. Meanwhile, the show's Connecticut-based following DID have the resources to contribute in advance, but probably weren't going to have the time to collectively fly across the country to attend a musical. While they might intend to donate, it would be easy to forget that the musical existed since it was being produced so far away from them. This was a problem. But remember how good I am at creating triangles? I built crowdfunding campaign that I marketed to CT residents, but I celebrated the launch and closing of that campaign at Austin-based events. These events were free to enter and involved lots of silly activities that made for great photos. By planning and executing these events for Austinites, I showed the out-of-towners that they could trust me to complete my promise to plan and execute the full show. By posting photos at these events on instagram and going live on facebook, I was able to draw attention and create reminders and further emotional incentives to the out-of-towners. The results? We had over 40 donors from 8 states and 3 countries and brought in enough money to hire our lighting and sound designers four months in advance.
3. TICKETS FOR TIME PROGRAM: To understand this example you have to accept that I have been triangulating resources long enough that I can make way more complicate networking shapes. Track with me here. As I said, I knew there were a lot of potential donors who could not come to Austin to see the show and I knew that I had a lot of Austin-based friends who would not be able to afford a ticket to the show. The solution to the problems of each of these groups was my connection to another group: local non-profits. Rather than simply having people who could not attend Isabel & the Runaway Train waive their tickets (which technically I could have just sold to Austinites), I promised to add the tickets to the "Tickets for Time Program." Through this program, I promised to donate the waived tickets to one of the show's partner non-profits, with the agreement that the tickets would be given to their volunteers as a reward for their time. I also promised those non-profits that I would be encouraging my Austin-based following to volunteer for them, using the tickets as additional incentive. So by July of 2018, the non-profits are going to get new volunteers, the Austinites will get tickets, and the out-of-towners will get assurance that their donation is doing as much good as possible.
WHY WOULD I MAKE THINGS SO COMPLICATED FOR MYSELF? Because it is more successful, more marketable, and more fun! It was way more enjoyable to send messages to my friends in Connecticut inviting them to finance the ticket of a local volunteer than to just ask them to give me money to put on a musical 2,000 miles away from them. It also made it easier if the potential donor said no, because the program created a talking point (It's a lot easier to say "I can't donate right now but I love that you are supporting local non-profits and wish you the best!" then "Sorry I can't help make your dreams come true and I feel awkward that you asked me to donate to something so far away from me."). The results of this program were that individuals in 8 states and 3 countries chose to donate to the crowdfund. This success allowed me to up my Austin-based marketing game as well. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed writing an email to my Austin-based followers asking them to consider the fact that if someone in England and someone in the Caribbean wants them to see Isabel & the Runaway Train so badly that they are willing to donate four months in advance from across the world AND NOT COME, then why wouldn't anyone in Austin just go ahead and reserve their tickets NOW?
Action Steps: You need to ask yourself a couple of key questions. Do you have a contact list? If you do, go through it. If you don't, make one and then go through it. Who do you know who has a problem that you can solve? Who do you know who has a problem that someone else that you know can solve? What are your key strengths and available resources? Make yourself a couple of lists, look for triangles, and connect the dots.
So that's my advice. I hope it helps.
Anna Westbrook "The author with a little bit of everything."