Creating Strategic Alliances

A strategic alliance is an arrangement between two companies or organizations that decide to share resources to undertake a specific, mutually beneficial project. In effective strategic alliances, each member will contribute to the success of the project. It is unlikely that any one person is going to turn your business around with a dramatic single impact. However, over a period of time they can make a difference. Through a series of small, consistent actions, you can gradually enhance your relationships to the point that they yield big results.

It is important to keep a positive attitude; don’t give up if there seems to be no immediate payoff. The key is to keep in touch. The best strategic alliances stay connected several times over the course of a year, with some of the meetings being in-person if possible. During those conversations, you want to explore and discuss some simple ways that you can help each other, which gradually strengthens the relationship.

Most people who achieve success with forging strong strategic alliances, and similarly with networking, view the process as a series of small actions taken with many different people. It is not a get-rich-quick scheme. They don’t write somebody off just because that person doesn’t add something to their business immediately.

If you are a member of a business networking group, take a look at the members of your group in the context of potential referral, and potential strategic alliance, partners. Each of them represents the possibility to contribute to your success; they layer a little bit of success on top of another layer of success for you.

Strategic Alliances – the Right Way

I experienced this in BNI®. One time, there were two organizations that attempted to create a strategic alliance with my organization, and I got two substantially different results.

The first company contacted me for a conversation. It was a case of “Glad to meet you—now, let’s get married!” I got the sense that they wanted to GIVE me the privilege of sharing my entire database of contacts with them based on who they were and how amazing it would be for me to say I had stood in their shadow! (You may be thinking, “What??”)

When I explained our corporate philosophy, and my own personal belief, that deepening a business alliance and building a relationship with a partner business took time and effort before getting to the “let’s get married” stage, they abruptly ended the call.

By contrast, this is how the second organization approached me. The well-known head of the company personally called and began the conversation by asking me what our company goals were. I shared them with him, and his next statement was, “We want to help you achieve that!”

From there it went from “Glad to meet you” to “Let’s get to know each other better!” He shared that he had ideas that could help us achieve our corporate goal, and help our members do better business at the same time. When I explained that our philosophy as a networking organization was one of cooperation, and that our belief was that anything that would truly be of value to either of us would take time, he completely got it, respected it, and supported it!

Our relationship developed organically over time and became a strategic alliance that was mutually beneficial for both organizations. (I never did hear much about that first company after our brief interaction….)

As I look back over several decades of building a global organization, I clearly see that no one person or a single company brought something to the table that launched us to the next level. Rather, it was the cumulative effect of many people, many strategic alliances, and many well-nurtured relationships with companies that were willing to get to know us and gradually over time, build each other’s businesses through our combined efforts. Each contact, each opportunity to reach out to one another, and each mutually beneficial activity served as just one more spoke in the wheel as we rolled along toward success.

I highly recommend that if you want to create strategic alliance relationships with other companies, be sure that you work with organizations that respect your corporate culture and are willing to work within it. They also need to clearly understand that the process takes time. When both of you reach this level of understanding, you will be well on your way to building success through strategic alliances.

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