I had a chat with our Head of Partnerships, Will Taylor about what he’s learned while working in partnerships.
Will is a genuinely kind and funny guy. He’s also grown a huge following on LinkedIn in the partnerships space. I asked Will a few questions about partnerships, work, and life.
Aaron: In episode 61 of PartnerUp you mentioned that after college, you thought about working as a psychotherapist. Have you always been interested in understanding what makes people tick?
Will: I was always curious about why people act the way they do. I’ve always had a warm heart, and I enjoy bringing that to others. I come from a stable family and wanted to bring that stability to others. I wanted to do it formally and get better at it.
Aaron: Instead of working as a therapist, you decided to start your career in sales; how did you make your way to partnerships?
Will: I became interested in Partnerships because sales was and I wanted to make it easier!
I went through a merger with five different companies that merged with our company. That opened up the opportunity for things like client sharing and cross-selling.
I didn't know it at the time, but that was my initial introduction to partnerships. I learned about the energy exchange and the value exchange that happens through Partnerships. It flipped the switch for me to lean into Partnerships.
Aaron: You seem to be genuinely interested in people. Have you always been so friendly?
Will: Yes! I've always wanted to connect with others regardless of who they are.
I always assume that most people are good-natured. I believe that they are acting in the best way that they believe possible. If you take lead in by being friendly first – by being warm and vulnerable first – then others will be warm and vulnerable.
Aaron: In one of your LinkedIn posts, you mentioned that you struggled with social anxiety. I would’ve never guessed that. Tell me how you overcame your anxiety.
Will: I used to overthink what to say in a conversation. Then, the moment would pass, and the conversation was over. I just didn't know when to jump in, and I didn't know what to say.
I had to learn to overcome that, especially in the world of sales. I focused on learning the skills of guiding the interaction and keeping the conversation going. I had to do the most uncomfortable thing: talking with others.
It really is like what Nike says: Just do it!
Aaron: In a recent LinkedIn post, you mentioned some of the top lessons you learned in partnerships. What is the number one lesson you’ve learned so far?
Will: For partnerships to work, you need to guide the interaction. And to guide the interaction, you need to have proper project management and confidence. In partnerships there's a diffusion of responsibility, so taking the lead will help get things done.
You also need to lead with conviction. If you lead with conviction people will listen. I’ve learned that through sales as well. You need to show a clear path forward so that people can understand how the partnership will benefit them.
Aaron: You’ve created some hilarious videos on LinkedIn. Tell me about how you came up with the idea to make the videos.
My friend Adem and I made some funny videos in college. It was a joy and a passion for us. But after college, we didn’t do it as much until I was like: “Hey let’s record!”
We put together a bullet point of what we wanted to do and then just started recording.
Aaron: How did you grow your following on LinkedIn to over 5,000 followers?
Will: I’m still figuring it out, but my three tips for creating content and building a following on LinkedIn are:
- Constantly engaging - comment on other people's posts
- Consistently posting - do it every day
- Have discussions with people and share with others. Share what you are learning in partnerships and tag other people.
Aaron: You take the time to engage with people on LinkedIn, is this a skill you’ve developed, or have you always done this?
Will: It is definitely a skill I developed. I generally don't like social media. But on LinkedIn, I am very deliberate.
I post at a specific time. I have links to specific profiles that I want to engage with. In short, you should be intentional, you should time-box everything, and you should focus on the people that you want to engage with.
Aaron: When did you start working at PartnerHacker? What drew you to PartnerHacker?
Will: I’ve worked at PartnerHacker since April 2022. What drew me to PartnerHacker was primarily our CEO, Jared Fuller.
I was attending a webinar that he was talking at, and he spoke with so much passion that I immediately felt inspired by his energy.
I DM’d him and was like:
Your face was getting red with how passionate you were!
I took note of how he was speaking. I admired that he was creating a positive impact on others. Joining a media company is something that I was really interested in.
I wanted to understand the media business and find a way to have a positive impact on society. I wanted to find a way to use emotion and storytelling to drive and scale partnerships.
Aaron: What do you do at PartnerHacker?
Will: I am the Head of Partnerships. I build partnerships with companies in our ecosystem. I make sure everything is on track with our partnerships.
I maintain trust by following through on what we promised and keeping our partnerships on the right path. I manage our partnerships, give updates, and build great relationships with our partners.
Aaron: What’s it like working at PartnerHacker, a startup in the partnerships ecosystem?
Will: It’s freaking amazing! We are on a rocket ship!
It blows my mind on a daily basis. We have a great team. It’s exciting. It’s energizing. I don’t mind working late into the evenings because my work aligns with my personal goals.
I try to maintain balance in life, but the things I want to achieve in life are part of the mission at PartnerHacker.
Aaron: Thanks for taking the time, Will. Is there anything else you think people should know?
Will: People want to connect. But we are all lazy. We don’t make the effort to connect. That leaves an opportunity to help people connect.
If you take the lead and connect and guide the interaction, it makes people feel understood. Everyone wants to feel connected.
People are eager to share and feel understood. Then, three years down the line when you need something, you can draw on a bit of the social capital you’ve built up.
Cultivate a connection with people. It’s an opportunity that you should get excited about.