Growing Your Business Partner Network for Impact and ValueJuly 22, 2013 | By Wayne O'Neill
If your business partners’ network has vanished or the value of your network is non-existent, then it may be time to take a closer look at your connections and relationships. You may want to ask yourself:
- Are other companies constantly pumping you for information on what’s happening in the marketplace?
- Are your conversations one-sided and your network does not return the favors?
- When was the last time you got a call from another company that didn’t involve discussing a specific opportunity?
- When was the last time you were asked about how you want to grow your company?
If any of these sounds familiar, then it may be time to hit the reset button to strengthen the valuable relationships within your network.
Business partners in your network only talk to you when they want information from you. Giving away leads does not grow your business. Top performers consistently provide quality work, do the right thing, and complete the work or service on time at a reasonable price. How is your reputation? Do you make the common mistake of giving too much away? Do you have a strategy to monetize your business offerings? Are you choosing to engage with people and companies that will result in revenue not just once, but will return as clients again and again or exchange services repeatedly? If you are only a “go to” person and little is offered in exchange, then what’s the return on your investment? Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your business relationships.
Instead of creating opportunities, you are reacting to opportunities. If you don’t know about a project before getting a RFQ/RFP, you’ve probably already lost. Instead of constantly skimming RFQ/RFP sites for bid opportunities, start focusing on building strategic relationships with other companies that target the same market segments. When you respond reactively to requests, you put together your proposal based on what they asked for and you lose the opportunity to share your unique value or impact.
You feel paranoid that everyone else seems to know what is going on and you don’t. Do you find yourself learning about missed opportunities after a decision has already been made officially? Are you constantly worried about where your next project will come from? Are you active in professional associations and read industry journals? Do you host client events to listen to their issues, facilitate discussions and share valuable nuggets of information so that they are already thinking about you as they write up their RFP? If you don’t have other eyes looking and ears listening for opportunities where you can have a big impact, you are never going to get ahead of the curve.
So here’s the bottom line:
- Examine the business relationships you have, then put them through a filter. Ask yourself, when was the last time you got work from someone you think of as a business partner? What company do you want to grow a better partnership? Do they have superior client intelligence on what is really happening in the marketplace (or do they just rely on you to tell them)? Are they connected to thought leaders in your client’s market segment? Do they have a solid history of project delivery? Look for two-way relationships.
- Determine who needs you on speed dial. What unique value can you deliver in a relevant partner equation? What compelling solutions do you provide to your target market? How do you deliver impact so powerful that companies want to call you first when they need a partner? It is not about trading leads, it is about delivering impact to clients for the greater good.
- Stay current on your industry’s business and political issues. If you are the top of your game by staying current on business and political issues, what’s going on in your industry, as well as rules, regulations, legislation, and customer needs, then you want partners who are doing the same. Otherwise you will be sucked dry.
Good business partnerships offer value in both directions. You can both thrive by engaging with these business partners and exchanging information. Your connection provides mutual benefit.
Coming Next… Part 5 in our game changing series “Top 7 Signs That Your Company Needs to Change”: You win the RFPs on price rather than impact or value. Cheaper is not always better if you have high quality and something unique to offer. If you find yourself constantly reducing costs, you may be sacrificing what you want most – to gain revenue.
Links to the rest of this game changing series “Top 7 Signs That Your Company Needs to Change”