I was recently speaking to a friend of mine who is a partner in an international consulting and training company. We discovered that we had a mutual acquaintance who is a bestselling author and fairly well-known speaker.
In our discussion, we found out that he had contacted each of us individually to see if there were any possibilities for some type of strategic alliance with our companies. We were both open to that possibility but couldnâ€™t see any immediate and dramatic way our companies could link up with his and do any specific projects at that time. We were both a bit amused to then discover that we were summarily â€œdroppedâ€ from his radar (no response to emails or other attempts to connect) after that.
We got the sense that he was looking for that one big alliance that would help his company soar to the next level. That realization started a conversation about the difference in the relationship between the third party mentioned above and the two of us.
Ironically, we had the same type of phone call with each other just 18 months earlier. We had come basically to the same conclusion. There was nothing on a grand scale that we could do together at that moment. The difference, however, was the rest of the story.
You see, we agreed to stay in touch. . . and then we did. We connected several times over the year, and we met in person as well. During that time, we gradually found some simple ways to help each other and gradually enhanced the relationship. This was a sharp contrast from the third party we had talked to individually. We both felt that when this person didnâ€™t see any big payoff, we became persona non grata with him. On the other hand, the two of us found ways to help each other gradually and even to this day continue to build on our relationship.
We came to the conclusion that most people who are successful at networking and creating strong strategic alliances view the process as a series of small actions taken with many people to create a long-term positive growth for your company. The process is more of a marathon than a sprint. Throughout the race, you form alliances and help each other in what may seem little ways over the long haulâ€”small actions over time really can create big results!
Hereâ€™s another real-life example of this scenario relating to two companies that both reached out to me and BNI to form a strategic alliance with us:
The first company, which shall remain nameless on the grounds that they like to slam folks they donâ€™t approve of in the media, contacted me. With them, it was a case of â€œglad to meet youâ€”letâ€™s get married!â€ I really 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 even say I had stood in their shadow! Get the picture?
When I explained our corporate philosophy and my own personal belief system that deepening a business alliance and building a relationship with a partner business took time and effort before getting to the â€œletâ€™s get marriedâ€ stage, they abruptly ended the call and (Iâ€™m sure) moved on down their computer-generated list of businesses to call.
By contrast, here is how a second organization in the same business approached the same issue: The owner himself contacted me and started the conversation by asking what our corporate plans were. I shared with him what our overall goal for growth was over the next five years. The next statement from him was, â€œWe want to help you achieve that!â€
From there it went from â€œGlad to meet youâ€ to â€œLetâ€™s get to know each other better!â€ He then shared with me 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, as I had with company X, that our philosophy as a networking organization was one of mutual cooperation and that our belief was that anything that would really be of value to either of us would take time, he completely got it!
Our relationship has developed organically, and we now have a strong strategic alliance with the organization based on getting to know each other and work with each other over time.
Iâ€™m not sure how company â€œXâ€ is faring; I donâ€™t hear so much about their program anymore! I wonder why, hmmm?
Looking back over two decades of building an international company, I can clearly see that no one person or company brought something to the table that launched my company to the next level. Instead, it was the cumulative effect of many people, many strategic alliances, and many well-nurtured relationships that gradually, over time, catapulted my business higher than ever imagined in the early days. Each contact, each opportunity to reach out to each other, and each mutually beneficial activity served as just one more spoke in the wheel as we rolled up the hill toward success!!
Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. Â He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI (www.BNI.com), the world’s largest business networking organization. Â His book, Networking Like a Pro, can be viewed at www.IvanMisner.com. Â Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute (www.ReferralInstitue.com), an international referral training company.
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