Thursday, March 1, 2007

Strategic Alliances

I was at a seminar recently for women entrepreneurs. It was amazing to see so many successful, networking women in one place. The interesting part I found as I visited the various trade booths and chatted with participants was how many people seemed genuinely interested in helping me to succeed.

My business motto is "Making you successful makes me successful." Simply put, much of that means building strategic alliances. Is your company making the most of its strategic alliance capability?

I love Wikipedia, an encyclopedia written by the masses. Wiki defines "strategic alliances" as "a formal relationship formed between two or more parties to pursue a set of agreed upon goals or to meet a critical business need while remaining independent organizations. . . . The alliance is a cooperation or collaboration which aims for a synergy where each partner hopes that the benefits from the alliance will be greater than those from individual efforts."

I agree with that definition with one caveat. The smaller the business organization, the less "formal" the relationship must be. For example, at times I work closely with design houses, advertising agencies and printers to ensure finished products I create look professional. I give them business and in exchange, they refer people to me. That's a strategic alliance. There is no "formal" agreement; there is only an informal relationship that I build through my integrity, excellent work product and referrals.

Independent adjusters are struggling in today's market as carriers reduce outsourced claims handling. The assignments that are coming in are usually from national carriers. I have friends who own firms in Phoenix, the East Bay in California, and Los Angeles. I've long recommended they team up. The Phoenix adjuster can pitch their counterparts' services from the East Bay or their strategic partner in Los Angeles, and the L.A. adjuster can do the same for the East Bay or Phoenix adjusters.

I'm confident referring these three to each other because I personally know their work product is impeccable. Based on my referral, have these adjusters taken that step to ally? You probably can guess the answer.

One is too shy, one is too busy, and the third procrastinates. I've stopped recommending they do so. There's a lesson in this. If someone offers to introduce you to someone or refer you to someone, jump on it like a cat on a canary. They probably won't offer a second time.

Are you making the most of your strategic alliances?

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