When it comes to leveraging your time, money, contacts and resources you can’t beat the power of collaboration. Not only do strategic partnerships or alliances open you up to new contacts and opportunities, they can also help you value-add to customers and land larger accounts.
But how do you find the right collaboration partners? This five-question collaboration checklist will help you find and evaluate strategic alliances so you can appeal to a wider target audience, attract larger clients and grow your business faster through collaboration.
Are you well aligned?
When it comes to building a close business relationship you need to be well aligned, not only in your level of skill and experience, but also in your personality, ethics and business vision. You need to be comfortable with referring your customers to them. If there is even the slightest doubt, address it early.
Do you share the same client base?
You want to collaborate with businesses your ideal customer will go to either before or after you. This way you not only supply each other with leads, but also value-add to each other’s customers and projects, share promotional costs, open up profitable promotional opportunities and can joint pitch for bigger accounts.
Have you done your due diligence?
When you are considering working with someone closely you need to do your research. What is their reputation like? Do they have the right credentials and licenses? Have you spoken to some of their customers? Do you know their strengths and weaknesses? Have you asked about their capacity?
Remember you will be associating your brand with their brand and referring them customers. Their decision and actions (or lack their of) could impact on your customers and business. Make sure you’ve asked the right questions and have a strong level of trust in them.
Do you have a value-add Plan B?
Business relationships, like any relationship aren’t fully equal 100% of the time. Know from the very beginning that sometimes one person will be referring more than the other.
By openly accepting this fact you can build in a Plan B, like a commission on referrals, contra products or services or additional promotion throughout each other’s network at these times so you both feel that you are still receiving value from the collaboration.
Are you both equally committed?
Successful business arrangements happen when each party is equally committed and invested in the project. You both need to want the collaboration and see the value in it as much as the other, otherwise it will end up a win/lose arrangement or it will fizzle quickly into nothing.
Like any relationship you both need to be persistent, committed, invested and take the time to nurture your collaboration through communication – a quick weekly/fortnightly call to say “hey, how is everything in your world? Anything I can do to help?” doesn’t take a lot of effort; it can however generate you a strong collaboration and lot of business.
Do you collaborate in your business? How do you find the right partners?
Image credit: Flickr/barkbud