Learn how a writer-business team works.

Writing Consultant, Accountability Partner, & Teammate

A writing consultant can work with your business as a teammate and accountability partner. The relationship can help your business meet its inbound marketing strategy goals by developing quality content online quickly and efficiently.

In addition, it helps construct your company culture through collaborative content planning, editing, and drafting. Interaction during the editing process helps partners refine a business’s language that plays an important role in branding and culture of any business.

In my post, “A Writer as an Inbound Marketing Content Accountability Partner,” I discussed:

The Writer as an Accountability Partner

  • The Writer as an Accountability Partner
  • The External Accountability Partner Advantage
  • What Makes for a Good Accountability Partnership? and
  • a bit about the Protocol of Partnering with a Professional Writer

Here, I’ll describe accountability partner strengths and weaknesses, partnering statements, agendas, scheduling, meeting format, and potential pitfalls.

Accountability partner strengths and weaknesses should compliment each other.
Your partner’s strengths should compliment your weaknesses.

A Writing Consultant with Complimentary Strengths and Weaknesses

My own writing has often involved working with dietary supplement retailers and wholesalers. I have a strong biology and chemistry background and taught nursing, veterinary, and pharmaceutical chemists and biologists for many years: cell biology, human biology, botany, anatomy and physiology, and other biology courses.

Although my background covers the science side of the dietary supplement niche, I have little experience on the business administration side of the desk. Although I have worked in retail and academic administration, I have not worked as an internal marketer or business administrator.

Effective teammates have complimentary strengths and weaknesses. Find your compliment.
Make sure that your writing consultant’s strengths and weaknesses compliment yours.

Accountability Statements

Accountability statements, says author and blogger,  Steve “S.J.” Scott at DevelopGoodHabits.com, …

… are action items you promise to complete before the next meeting. In a way, they’re similar to milestones because they’re small actions that are part of a larger goal. … The best type of accountability statement is one that is related to your primary goal, has a clear outcome and is doable in a specific time frame.

Steve “S.J.” Scott at DevelopGoodHabits.com
Accountability statements are action items you promise to complete before the next meeting.
Your accountability partnering meetings should include accountability statements.

I like to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) with my clients. Scott uses the PACT acronym (Possible, Actionable, Clear, Time-bound Deadline). Don’t get hung up on these formalities, though; use the goal-setting system that works for your and your partner.

SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Partners and mastermind groups can get hung up on debate about definitions and hierarchy of goals, objectives, and tasks without making significant advances in the protocol or goals. Spend your time working on your goals, not on worrying that you saw two different definitions online.

Accountability Partner Meeting Frequency and Time

Accountability partners should meet regularly. The meeting does not have to be long, but it should be regularly scheduled. Scott recommends meeting, “… five minutes daily or 30 minutes weekly.”

I like to keep partnering meetings short, as recommended by Scott. I have worked with agencies and institutions that extend partnering meetings to over an hour or even two hours. However, such meetings cost a great deal of money in terms of top end employee time. That generally means cutting into the profit margin on both sides of the partnership.

Accountability partners should meet regularly.

Scott recommends meeting, “… five minutes daily or 30 minutes weekly.”

Without a time limit, they can lend to unproductive conversations. Leave chit chat outside the meeting, and respect scheduled meeting times for more productive meetings.

Respect your partner’s time by delegating research, drafting, editing, or commenting in the drafts to non-meeting hours as much as possible. Writing and editing entire documents together rarely makes good use of team member time.

Delegate research, drafting, editing, or commenting in the drafts during non-meating hours.
An effective leader knows how to delegate.

Consistent Scheduling Pays Off

Productive people are busy people. If you decide to work with partners, you will inevitably find schedule conflicts.

If your partnering relationship has a Mastermind group structure, with several partners, it’s good to set up an online messaging and feedback mechanism that allows individuals to provide input after the meeting if they cannot attend sometimes. Some participants may have to participate virtually 100% of the time.

Your mastermind group should include an online messaging and feedback mechanism that allows individuals to provide input after the meeting.
A writing consultant can set up online mechanisms to allow masterminds to provide input when the miss meetings.

Regular Time Slots

If you schedule regular time slots for meetings, you and your partner will get used to having your mindset for the meeting at that particular time. You also start getting a feel for how to make progress on goals before the next meeting time when they’re scheduled at the same time every day or week.

Time Zones

Working with a writer in a different time zone can be challenging. However, it can works well when the parties find a time to meet and keep things on schedule.

Scheduling Tools

Be sure that schedules will work together. I generally send my partners and clients a link with my available times and let them choose a time that works for them. I use Meeting Scheduler for Gmail because it integrates smoothly with my GSuite tools, adding the meeting to my calendar as soon as the client partner selects a time slot.

Scheduling tools turn accountability partners and masterminds into teams.
Be sure that your writing consultant schedule will work with yours.

How Will You Meet?

How you meet does not matter as much as being consistent and disciplined about doing it. I used to attend a lot of face-to-face meetings, but I actually prefer the efficiency (no travel time or cost) of the online meeting format.

However, I recommend that you and your partner use the method that makes you comfortable. If you like the formality of meeting in a business conference room and have the time and infrastructure to do so, that’s great. Meeting over coffee at a local coffee shop works fine too.

How often you meet does not matter as much as being consistent and disciplined about doing it.
Use a meeting format that makes you and your partner comfortable.

If you both work best over the phone, go for it. Use what works for you and your partners.

I meet with nearly all my clients via audio conferences. A few of my clients prefer video conferences, which is fine too.

Although I have met with accountability partners via telephone, Google Hangouts, Skype, Facebook messenger, and LinkedIn, I encourage my partners to use Uberconference. I like the convenience of having recordings of meetings that I can have transcribed when they contain good content.

Audioconferences  allow accountability partners and masterminds to meet efficiently from any location with an internet connection.
I like the convenience of having recordings of meetings that I can have transcribed when they contain good content.

One Tool Never Fits All

In addition, using the audio conferencing platform, we send documents, updates, reference materials, website links, and other relevant information through email, and, occasionally, text or social media networks. We also share information and schedule on project management platforms, like Trello, Asana, and Teamwork.

Although I do my best to be flexible and use platforms my client uses, I back everything up to my GSuite drive and encourage clients to use the GSuite because we can share and search freely on the platform.

What Does a Writer / Accountability Partnering Meeting Agenda Look Like?

The writer/accountability partner meeting agenda should vary little from session to session.

1. Presentation of Goals and Advances

It should include the presentation of the goals set during the last session (or last few sessions, if goals were of longer duration). The presentation should cover goal presentation by both parties: writer and business representative.

Both parties should talk about their advances on each goal. If advances were below expectations, they should also discuss their plan for addressing the issues that might have impeded progress.

Accountability partners must discuss goals.
Both parties should talk about their advances on each goal.

2. Feedback on Advances

The partners should provide supportive feedback on goals, delegating specific tasks to the appropriate team members, and involving team members affected by the specific goals.

In discussing goals, both partners should celebrate advances and confront challenges with proposed solutions. Both parties should comment on proposed solutions.

By providing feedback on advances, masterminds and accountability partners help each other see things from a different perspective.
Masterminds and accountability partners should provide supportive feedback on goals.

3. Goal Updating / Goal Setting

Both parties should update goals that were not met and put forth new goals for upcoming sessions. Partners should provide each other with constructive feedback on these goals.

Potential Pitfalls of Accountability Partnering

Before choosing any accountability partner, work with him or her to see how each of your fields the relationship. Not all writers like working as partners. Ask your writer directly if he or she wants to give it a try.

Once you decide that a professional writer might make a good accountability partner, explain your understanding of the concept. Explain how the relationship mutually benefits both of the partners. 

Stay safe from the potential pitfalls of accountability partnering.

The Bottom Line: ROI

In addition, a business and external accountability partner should ensure that their relationship benefits both:

  • If the budget cannot sustain an outsourced writer, the writer will have to sacrifice time to generate income.
  • If the writer/business team cannot generate a return on investment (ROI) because the anticipated return will not cover the writer’s fees, likewise, the business will not benefit from the relationship.

An effective relationship benefits both partners.

An effective relationship benefits both partners.
Accountability partnering works through mutual benefits.

In concluding, Scott suggests, “Just remember to focus on the challenges you’re both facing, provide honest feedback to the other person and create accountability statements that use the PACT formula. … Do these things on a continuous basis and you can easily break a major goal into a series of doable tasks.”

I have worked for decades with accountability partners in the academic realm. Many of the projects that we worked on two decades ago continue in the institutions where we began them.

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime.” Babe Ruth

If you’re not a socialite the interaction will add a few tools to your professional toolbox. If you work very socially, you’ll adapt easily to the system. Finally, you will find that accountability partnering with a professional writer will keep your business goals out of the foul zone as you watch your website and blog post copy grow and diversify.

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