Mentorship doesn’t always have to be a one-on-one relationship. Sometimes entire teams benefit from meeting other entire teams, exploring their peers’ daily routines and learning how it fits into the larger whole in a different way.

However, these encounters can only happen under specific circumstances: ones you decide to create, that is. Our team recently experienced this process as we visited a larger accounting firm nearby, asking many questions and receiving a wealth of information from their generous team members.

How to Create an Abundant Partnership

As anyone in a mentoring relationship knows, it’s not always easy to be intentional about asking good questions and learning together. It’s even harder to establish that connection with teams who are reluctant to share information because they feel it will harm their competitive edge.

We think of that tendency as the scarcity mindset: there’s not enough work for everyone in our industry, so I have to protect what little I have at all costs. The opposite approach is to think abundantly: there’s more than enough work to go around, so I can share information knowing another company’s success doesn’t harm my own.

As we practice fostering relationships focused on abundance mindsets, we’ve found there are 4 distinct steps in establishing that first point of contact with a company you’d like to learn from.

1. Identify

What do you want your business to look like? Do you admire scrappy start-ups with relentless energy? Or do you crave the stability of robust policies and traditions common in nationwide companies? Seek out better, faster, or bigger businesses from which you can learn.

Research companies in your niche who have offices nearby and prepare questions based on what you already know of them or what you find on their website.

2. Visit

Ask the company you’ve identified whether they would be willing to sit down with your team to discuss the different ways in which you do business. A little flattery never hurt anyone: make sure to be respectful and complimentary when on-site, especially if you’re meeting them for the first time.

You will likely only gain meaningful connections with people who, like you, believe there’s more than enough work for both companies. Make sure to take this abundance mindset with you, sharing it with each new mentoring business you interact with.

Prepare good questions, but don’t forget to listen more than you talk. You’re there to learn, and they’re ready to teach. Take notes and remember you probably won’t be able to implement everything they do immediately, if at all.

3. Apply

Debrief with your team after the visit, making notes of what each member liked best about the way your mentoring company conducts business. Be honest about what would and wouldn’t work in your own culture, and be creative in adapting ideas to best suit your needs.

Once you’ve figured out the most important applications, create deadlines for your team to implement them, whether it means purchasing new software, implementing new policies, or cutting down on paperwork.

4. Follow Up

Finally, express gratitude to the people who let you pick their brains. Thank them for being abundantly generous with their time and let them know what changes you’ve made because of their advice. If you think it would be helpful, ask if they would be willing to have regular discussions with your team, or if they want to visit your office some time.

Playing the Long-Term Game

The effects of abundant partnerships are limitless. When you give and receive information freely, everyone gets better, makes fewer mistakes, and enjoys the benefits of secure friendships built on trust and camaraderie.

However, you may not see these benefits right away. That’s because partnerships like these are efforts in a long-term game; one focused not on immediate gains and competition, but in survival and stability. These habits and an abundance mindset give teams valuable perspective on what options are out there, accelerating their adoption of new strategies by seeing how they’re used first-hand.