It is a reality that the current economic turmoil has created challenges for many businesses. But, is that really the whole story? Lost in the doom and gloom clutter regarding the recession is the fact that it has inspired creativity and is the catalyst for a new level of cooperation between people and businesses. To succeed in these troubled times, businesses have reached out across industries and even to competitors to build alliances and seize on new opportunities and innovations. Are you missing out on building alliances?

Tapping Your Network: Business 2 Business Relationships

If you’ve ever been to a Chamber of Commerce event or any of the myriad of business leads networks, you know what I’m talking about. But, I can hear many of you thinking it now, “There are lots of people representing business, but I don’t know any of them. Do I want to refer my important client to them?” or “What partnerships are compatible with my business.” The answer, from a marketing perspective is obvious: put out the welcome mat and invite anyone to send business your way. Of course, it is trickier when it comes to referring business the other direction; when you are asked to put your name and reference integrity on an unknown. I understand that thought, I try to be cautious and I expect caution from others.

That leaves me in the position of asking: “who in my business network do I have good relationships with?” Then, actually asking those business contacts to refer clients to me and offering to do the same in return. Probably the most satisfying development of the past year has been the number of times I’ve heard something like this: “I’d be happy to do that; I know you will treat my (contacts) well.” I’ve proven myself trustworthy by endeavoring to handle my professional relationships with kindness and honesty; and now, when I need a little extra help, it is paying off. So, be brave and ask; it can be awkward, but you will be amazed at how many people are more than happy to say yes! And, there’s nothing like a little validation.

Build an “Army”: (I know so little about this analogy – it just seems apropos)

There’s no secret why Business 2 Business relationships are so important; they can make a huge difference. I’ve long considered quality over quantity as the recipe for success. The big secret from the “great recession” is that quantity AND quality is now my reality. Strategy is also clearly an important element. In fact, I not only need quantity I need an “Army,” to help me succeed. My strategy is to build an army of business relationship soldiers: willing to speak up for me (refer) whenever they have the opportunity. Here’s how it works: first, find potential recruits – they are all over. Second, show them my value. Third, ask for their help. And, forth, send them on their way. The second step is the most critical, but probably the simplest. If my potential recruit perceives their interaction with me and my business as productive, even if, today, it does not result in business, hopefully, I have made a “hearts and minds” impression. If I’ve done my job, I should feel comfortable asking that person to remember me in the future.
Remember the adage: people like to do business with people they like.

tracyTracy Wilson
Managing Partner, Sacramento & Corporate Development

Tracy has 20 years of experience in the OBC industry and is a licensed Real Estate Broker in California. Tracy has helped guide numerous legal firms as an office business center operator. She has a B.A. in History from U.C. Santa Barbara. Send Tracy an E-mail.