Strategic Partnerships with Stephanie Ward, Firefly Coaching

Stephanie Ward I Am A Triangle Interview

Do you need to expand your international network using strategic partnerships? Reach thought leaders and need help elevating your business or project? Join me for an interview with Stephanie Ward from Firefly Coaching to learn the TOP tips and tricks for creating purposeful relationships and authentic partnerships.


The following is the transcript from the broadcast shared above, originally recorded live.

We are live for the very first ever Triangle Live broadcast. This is really super exciting, it’s a fun platform to try out. My name is Naomi Hattaway. I’m the founder of the ‘I Am A Triangle’ community and movement. We can be found online inside of our Facebook group, and today I am super excited to have Stephanie Ward along with us from Firefly coaching, and in the background, we apparently have my dog along for the ride as well today. Before I let Stephanie introduce herself though, I want to just give a little bit of feedback on how this broadcast works. So, it is as if we are sitting with you wherever it is that you are, you can comment away, and we will be able to see your comments and we’ll have some engagement, we’ll have questions and answers at the end, and along the way, if you have questions about what we’re talking about, feel free to ask. We can see that, we will engage with you, we want to say hi.

Stephanie:    Okay. Thanks, Naomi. I’m super excited to be here with you. We met at the FIGT conference, which was amazing, and what I do, I help small business owners increase their visibility so clients come to them. So, I’m working with them to help them figure out their marketing, something that fits for them that they’ll actually do, instead of things that they think sound nice but they’re afraid to do. So, it’s really just about profiling people, building their confidence, and getting them out there so clients can connect with them.

Naomi:     Yeah, and I really love what you said about developing out a strategy that they’ll actually do, because that’s, I think, part of the problem is you get these overreaching strategies that have way too much information.

Naomi:     Stephanie, where are you at, at the moment?

Stephanie:    I am sitting in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, and it’s quite overcast, but spring has sprung.

Naomi:     That is good. And I’m in Columbus, Ohio in the United States, and spring has definitely sprung. The colors are amazing and beautiful. I’m very excited. Okay, let’s jump right in. So, the first thing I think that we need to talk about is the ‘what’. What are authentic relationships? What are strategic partnerships? Stephanie, that is such your level of expertise. I’ll let you just take it away.

Stephanie:    Alright. Well, thanks. I think when you talk about authentic relationships, we can all relate to that on every level, business, personal, and to me that just means something where you feel a connection, there’s honesty, and there’s trust. And trust is something that takes time to build, so you cannot have authentic relationships in five minutes, or five days. It takes time. You can have an initial feeling of connection and trust, and I always go with, ‘Trust someone until they prove you wrong,’ because it’s better to look at it that way. But it’s a matter of small things over time, building, and building, and building. That’s an authentic relationship to me.

Naomi:     Yeah. I agree with you, and I come from the same thought process, that it is so much easier on our psyche, and on ourselves and our inner being to trust first, and then let the chips fall where they may, and I also agree a hundred percent that it takes time. I think that some people you can find an instant bond with, and that trust, but then the strategic part of it comes in when you start talking about the timing, and developing out a relationship. So, what is the difference between an authentic relationship and a strategic partnership? It seems like there’s a little more intention behind a strategic partnership.

Stephanie:    Right. Well, of course, there’s some crossover. I mean you could have a strategic partnership that is an authentic relationship, hopefully, it is, but the idea with the strategic partnership is that you are consciously thinking about your business, and you’re thinking about, ‘Who could I partner with that serves the same clients that I do, but with a different product or service, and that we could support each other in that?’ So, I send them clients, they send me clients, or it could also be a one-way partnership, which we can talk more about later. But the idea is that you consciously – it’s not like you just meet someone, and you click, or you run into someone, but that you consciously sit down and actually make a list of people like, ‘Who could this be? Who could my partners?’ And then the steps of approaching them, and talking with them and then building that out on that level.

Naomi:     So, let me ask you this question, because some of the people that are going to watch this might be saying, ‘Well, I don’t have a business, so this doesn’t apply to me.’ Are there ways that we can talk around not just having a formal business? What are other opportunities or situations where we might be able to look at life and our relationships in the way of strategic partnerships?

Stephanie:    I think everything. I mean if you’re a volunteer you could look at raising money, if you are with other moms, if you’re raising children, if you’re trying to make some partnerships with some other moms about, gosh, a number of things – it could be for childcare, it could be for events or getting together – anything really it can be applied to.

Naomi:     And look at the benefits to being surrounded by internationals and global nomads, that kind of plays into what I’m passionate about, building a community, and if you look at, in a strategic way, how to build relationships that will help you with what you need, yeah, I like that.

Stephanie:    You know, and I think one of the first things to do – just when you were saying that, it just popped into my head – is that when you are trying to build a community, always give first. Always, always, always. In a relationship, in a partnership, don’t wait, give first.

Naomi:     Yeah, I so agree with that, and I think there’s a lot of people in the thought leader space talking about giving first. Gary Vaynerchuk is a jab, jab, jab, right hook guy, and actually it was interesting, someone in the ‘I am a Triangle’ group this morning posted about her recent relocation to a new location, relocation to a new location. Yeah, she mentioned that she’d gone to a pub, and when she was there she reached out to the owners and said, ‘Here I am,’ like she opened her hands and she said, ‘Here I am, this is what I know how to do, this is what I’m good at, and I’m here.’ And like a week later they contacted her, and she now has a job.

Stephanie:    Fantastic.

Naomi:     But I think it goes back to giving of yourself first, and saying, ‘This is what I have and I can give to you,’ and it turned into a job, so I think that’s great. Okay, so we’ve talked about the ‘what’, now the ‘who’. What tips do you have for how to find the best strategic partners? And we talked about, this isn’t just around business, but it’s also in relationships, friendships, being able to maximize your family’s time in a location. How do you find the people?

Stephanie:    Well, I like to look at in two ways to both support each other. So, you can do offline and online, and they complement each other really well. So, offline, you can, of course, Google anything,,, LinkedIn, Facebook, to try to find some in-person events that you can actually attend and meet people face-to-face. And then on the online side, again, Facebook groups, you can search LinkedIn, you can use twitter hashtags, there’s so much online that you can find, so it’s just a matter of actually sitting down, being willing to spend a little time doing some research. And what you’ll find is, it’s kind of a snowball effect. Once you find one thing it will lead you to another thing, and lead you to another thing, and a lot of times the offline and online platforms, some of those platforms like have both aspects. You can connect with people online as well as in person.

Naomi:     Right. And I think that you mentioned InterNations, which is a great way. The ‘I am a Triangle’ Triconnects are another. They’re location-based, and you can easily find people to connect with inside of your location, and then we have topic groups also, so missionaries, military, you know, to kind of get out, expand a little bit. I almost think too that sometimes it’s a matter of just brainstorming with people that know what you need, or know you well enough to just say, ‘Well, what about this?’ and making those suggestions.

Stephanie:    And sure, brainstorming with someone that just knows you, and/or someone who’s local, would be a great idea.

Naomi:     Yeah. I want to give a little shout out to Marielle. Yes. I love FIGT, and the connections, and the in person. FIGT is another fabulous way to build up a list of strategic partners.

Stephanie:    Yes. Shout out.

Naomi:     Yeah. So, we talked a little bit about this in the very beginning, and it’s something that I want to just go back to. It’s something that I’m very passionate about. What are the wrong ways to go about building these relationships? And then after we flesh that out and talk a little, then we can talk about the right ways.

Stephanie:    Yeah. I think some people get confused, or I’m not sure what the right word is, but they get lulled into this strange place for online connections. They think, ‘Well, if we connect on Facebook or LinkedIn, then we’re best friends, and I’m going to ask them to hire me for a job or something.’ It’s like meeting someone and saying, ‘Let’s get married.’ It’s just too fast. So, you need to take your time, don’t be a stalker, follow through normal channels, you can start with Twitter, which, you know someone doesn’t have to reciprocate, so that’s a bit lighter method. But don’t do all the channels at one time, bombard someone, that might kind of freak him out. But I would say just use the same principles of what you would do in real life. You would never just walk up to someone and go, ‘Hey, let’s make a strategic partnership, here’s my business.’

Naomi:     Right.

Stephanie:    It wouldn’t happen. So, just always think about how you’d do it in real life offline, and again, that thing of giving first – how can you help someone else? Ask about them, be interested in them. ED. Don’t try to be interesting, try to be interested in other people. Listen to them. Listen to what they’re interested in, what they’re passionate about, and if you can tell them about a book, or an article, or introduce them to someone that can help them along their path, that’s the way to really start building a connection.

Naomi:     I like that. I’m going to actually see if I can add that to the screen, because I think that that is really powerful, and I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of interest in ‘I am a Triangle’ community, and I think the ones that are really meaningful, and the ones that I go, ‘That’s so amazing,’ are the ones that say, ‘Hey, do you need any help with anything?’ or the ones that come on.


Stephanie:    It is so important that – especially for Naomi, because she has this humongous community in such a short period of time, is that when you are looking to connect with someone, if you can just offer first, it makes all the difference in the world in the way the connection begins, and we can always all help each other with something. So, there’s no reason not to start with that question. Even if you are in a desperate need of help yourself, start by asking, ‘What could I do for you? Is there something I could do for you?’ Yeah, I love that.

Naomi:     Yeah. I think it is so important when you acknowledge what you have to offer. I think sometimes people say, ‘I don’t have anything to offer, so how would I possibly offer something first?’ So, I think that’s another brainstorming action, is to sit down and just go over all of the things that you do have to offer.

Stephanie:    But I love that point, that’s the flip side of it is, you know, everyone does have something to offer, so never doubt that. And it can be any range of skills, and if it’s something kind of weird and unique, the better, because probably no one else can do it and they need your help with that. So, getting in touch with your own skill list, even if it’s just three things that you can take with you in your pocket when you head out the door, it’s a great idea.

Naomi:     And I think that it doesn’t have to be crazy amazing talents, it can be something as easy as, ‘In my last location, I gathered six moms and organized a play date once a month,’ or ‘In my last location I was the trailing spouse, and so I went to the company and organized a support system for the other trailing spouses.’ I think there’s all sorts of ways that we can do that. So then, let’s talk about the ‘why’ a little bit. When this is done well, when we have these authentic relationships that we have cultivated – and I also want to go back a little bit to say, you had said ‘don’t stalk’, but I think there’s a healthy way to learn about someone. Like, follow them on Twitter and see what they’re passionate about, see what lights them up, see what books they’re reading, and I like what you said, don’t follow them on every platform because that might seem a little strange, but I do think it’s on us, the onus is on us to do the research before we go after somebody, to know if they’re open to a strategic partnership, to understand what it is that they need. Okay, so having said that, when they work, what does that look like? What kind of benefits? Say you and I, let’s use us as an example, how could we have a really thriving, healthy strategic partnership?

Stephanie:    Well, the key is that there’s something, again, that each of us needs from the other that we can deliver to each other. So, what I mentioned at the beginning, sometimes they are one way. It can be the case that people are like a chronological path, and they would come through you and then to me, or the other way around, so it wouldn’t make sense for us to both refer each other, but in real life with us, I mean we do serve similar communities, so we could promote each other’s business. I mean you’re doing it right now by inviting me to be on this platform with you on your platform. So, you could do a Go Live, you could put someone – I could put you in my newsletter, in my ezine, you could do a guest blog on my blog, offers, things like that.

Naomi:     Yeah. And I think if you look at – so, say someone is a blogger, which, I know we have a lot of writers, amazing writers – guest blogging and providing content for each other is such a win-win. On one hand, you’re not having to create that content, so what you’re doing for me, and for the Triangle community, Stephanie, is helping with content. This live event becomes content which is of value, it helps other people down the road, and it’s one less thing that I have to do. So, if we were both bloggers, and we offer to guest post on each other’s sites, it’s one less blog post that we each have to do. Plus in getting to know each other,  the relationship just keeps growing where then I will be able to introduce you to someone that I know that needs your help. It just keeps going exponentially, I think.

Stephanie:    It does, it multiplies, and there’s also the effective of just even knowing each other, because then you see, ‘Oh, they’re in the same circle,’ and it’s an instant trust builder. If someone likes and trusts you, and they see that you connect with me, they’ll think, ‘Okay, well then Stephanie must be okay, because otherwise, Naomi wouldn’t be in touch with her.’ So, it’s a compounding effect like you mentioned.

Naomi:     I do like that. I’m going to just pop up a little reminder that if anyone has questions, that we’ll be answering them either live or at the very end. We’d love to just have a little bit of engagement around what questions you guys might have about the things that we’ve talked about. In the meantime, we had talked a little bit, Stephanie, about how to ask for an introduction. So, if someone has a platform, or if someone has a business, or something that you’re interested in, what are some of the best ways, the best practices that you’ve seen for how to ask for an introduction, so that it’s authentic and meaningful?

Stephanie:    Well, the thing that you said is, when you actually get to that point, is to offer how you can help that person, but before you get there, what I always recommend is to use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is so powerful. If you’re not on LinkedIn, get on there. Go into LinkedIn, find the person you want to meet, and see if there’s someone that you know that knows them. Most of the time there is, and if not, okay, then there’s another way to do it. But that’s where I go first, or on Facebook, and see, are they friends with the same people? Could someone make that introduction for you? That way it’s a warm introduction. So, once you get that, then always make the proposition in terms of what’s in it for the other person. Not like, ‘I would love to blog post on your website,’ or ‘I would love you to read my book,’ or ‘I wish you would do this for me.’ No, turn it around and make sure you’re talking only about how I could help you. So, what you said as an example, I would say, ‘Hey, Naomi, I know you have to create a lot of content for your community. Would you like it if I made a blog post that specifically speaks to an issue that your community has? What would that be, and let’s talk about it.’

Naomi:     Right. And I think also in talking about looking for those mutual connections like you mentioned with LinkedIn, I always get a little frustrated too when there’s not a balance, when someone sends me a message, or I see someone doing it even online, where it’s, ‘This is what I need from you,’ and there’s a list of 30 things, and then at the very end it’s like, ‘And I could do one thing for you.’

Stephanie:    Or nothing, they don’t say anything.

Naomi:     Nothing, yeah. So, you know I think if there’s a little bit of balance there too, and I think sometimes we could maybe just be vulnerable and say, ‘I would love to be in your space. I’d love to get to know you more, I would love to be able to learn from you.’ Everyone always says ‘pick your brain’.

Stephanie:    Don’t say that.

Naomi:     Yeah, don’t say that. But I think there are ways that you can authentically say like, ‘I think that you have knowledge to bring me, and I’d love to know if there’s an opportunity for me to learn from you.’ Because then – like I do this all the time. Twitter is my favorite way to make connections without influencers and thought leaders. By following them on Twitter, I see their patterns, I see what they like. Then if I see something that I feel would be of value to them, I can tweet it to them, and very inconspicuously almost, they start to go, ‘Oh, that’s a person who understands me, or has brought me value.’ Then I think the ask, it can be as simple as, ‘Hey, person that I really think is awesome. Do you have any blog posts that you’ve published lately that you think fit the topic of – I don’t know – growing a community online?’ That gives them the, ‘Oh, they’re really interested,’ and then they can just send a blog post. I think there’s really simple ways.

Stephanie:    That makes total sense, and it goes back to what you said before – give value first. So, by following them and sharing articles, you are helping them, so that is giving first, always.

Naomi:     Yeah. And then one of the things that I wanted to talk about too, and this is a little bit of a sticky conversation, but I think we both can manage it, we were talking a little bit about this small pond that we’re all in, whether you look at it from a community of internationals, and global nomads, and triangles, and FIGT members, we all end up crossing the same paths, and I feel it strongly, that it’s just worth mentioning to always make sure that you are swimming in the pond nicely, that you’re looking for opportunities to collaborate, looking for ways to play nice and share a floaty. There’s enough room in it for all of us – I don’t know, what are your thoughts around that?

Stephanie:    Well, I love the floaty, share the floaty, and I love what you just said at the end, that there’s enough room. I mean, it’s a small pond, but it’s an endless small pond, meaning there’s space for all of us, for everybody, and you will come across people. And so, I would just say to definitely mind the relationship. If you ever have a strange situation with someone where it doesn’t feel right, don’t just walk away and say, ‘Well, that was weird, never mind,’ go in there, send a mail, call and say, ‘Gosh, I don’t know, I feel like there might be something between us. Did I do something or say something?’ Because you just never know. And you know we’re all struggling to do our best, and some days are better than others, and we all have different values and beliefs, and it’s hard.

Naomi:     I am so glad you said that. I think one of the things that I have learned, and really had – it’s been a learning lesson for me this past six months to a year – we all speak literally different languages, we all come from extremely unique backgrounds and situations that make our perspectives so unique, and I like that you said that, because I [inaudible 00:24:13] and attempt for engagement doesn’t necessarily mean that’s how the whole relationship will be, and if we can pull ourselves up out of the ‘That felt weird,’ and just ask, and just say, ‘Are we okay?’ I think that’s amazingly poignant.

Stephanie:    It’s hard, and it’s not easy, but it ties back to what you said before is risking being vulnerable. Brunet brown talks a lot about that, vulnerability, and that’s what it is to be human and to connect, and because we’re so different it’s going to take someone to stand up and just say, ‘Hey, can we talk about it?’ and ‘I’m willing to listen,’ and ‘Let’s just get it out there on the table.’ Because once it’s out, it’s so much easier to resolve. I just want to point out one key thing about that, everyone can take away now who’s listening about Twitter or any other platform, is what you said is, listen, which just means pay attention. Pay attention to the people that you’re interested in, read what they write, listen to their videos, listen to their podcast. It can be literally that simple, so that’s the starting point, just listen.

Naomi:     Yeah. I am so with you on that, and it goes back to what you said, which I’ve just put up on the screen, ‘Be interested, with an ED, and not interesting only, with an ING.’ So, it looks like everyone is saying that they definitely want some more info and intel on social media, so we will come back and we’ll do that definitely as a topic. We’re going to wrap up for now. The point of these Triangle Lives is to try and be in the 20-minute mark, we went a little bit over tonight – tonight, it’s still morning for me. I’m going to just go drink a coffee.

Stephanie:    More coffee.

Naomi:     More coffee. Oh, we have people here that haven’t been talking. We have Sundae Schneider Bean, who says, ‘Don’t forget the social in social media.’ That is such a great point. Stephanie, we could talk forever, couldn’t we?

Stephanie:    We could. We could.

Naomi:     Where can we find you, Stephanie? What is it that you do? What do you offer the world?

Stephanie:    You can find me at, and if you go there, on every single page you can get a copy of my free special report, which is called ‘Seven Steps to Attract More Clients in Less Time‘. I’m @fireflycoaching on Twitter, I’m Firefly Coaching on Facebook, and I’m FireflyCoaching on Instagram.

Naomi:     I am so glad that we had this chat.

Stephanie:    Me too. It was so fun.

Naomi:     I am so glad. And it went well, I think. We didn’t mess it up.

Stephanie:    I think it went well. It was both our first time on the BeLive platform, so try that, it’s fun.

Naomi:     I know. It’s really great. I love BeLive. BeLive TV is really doing some amazing things. I wanted to, before we jump off, I just want to give you a little bit of a run down, everybody who’s watching. I have pages and pages of all of my notes for future Triangle Lives. We’re going to talk about how to practice gratitude, we’re going to have one on our differences with an amazing researcher, we’re going to talk about volunteerism, how to build a portable career, all sorts of amazing things. Mindful living, divorce and separation, we’re going to talk about some big stuff, death, money all the important stuff in 20 minutes or less, right here on BeLive. I want to thank everyone for being here, you guys know how much community means to me, and how much connection means to me, and your time here is important to us, and we are so glad you joined us. For those of you who are watching the replay, we are glad that you’re here as well, and for today, we bid you adieu. Happy authentic relationship building, and strategic partnershipping.

Stephanie:    Thank you, Naomi.

Naomi:     Yeah. Thank you, Stephanie. Bye everyone.

Stephanie:    Bye.

Author: Naomi Hattaway

Naomi Hattaway is the founder of I Am A Triangle, an online community of members from around the globe who have one thing in common – they’ve lived around the world, away from their passport countries. Offering in-person gatherings in over 80 cities around the globe, I Am A Triangle also exists to be a one-stop-shop for resources whether you are just pondering a move abroad, currently are living the adventure, or are repatriating back “home.” She also owns 8th & Home Real Estate and Relocation, a referral network matching families on the move with real estate professionals who chase communities and not commissions. After living in several locations in the United States, her family (three kids, now ages 21, 13 and 10) moved overseas to Delhi, India where she learned to thrive in the midst of chaos.

Following a one-year stint in Singapore, they are now back in the United States, and she has traipsed her way from Florida to Virginia and is now – for the time being – in Ohio. Naomi is passionate about community building and empowering others to thrive, not just survive, in the places they call home.

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