So you’ve decided that strategic alliance partnerships are a good way to grow your business: congratulations! Now you have the big task of finding suitable companies to partner with: how do you do that?
How to find strategic alliance partners
The first step in finding possible strategic alliance partners is to draw up a shortlist of industries. Remember, these partners should have the same target market as you, but without competing directly.
The next step depends on how upfront you want to be in your approach.
- The direct approach: Consult a directory or list service to identify the names and contact details of companies fitting your profile for a strategic alliance. Then make contact with those businesses.
- The softly-softly approach: Network in places where people in those industries spend time. Or attend networking functions and events aimed at those industries.
What are you going to say when you make contact?
When you contact the possible strategic alliance partner, be clear with your intentions. Let them know why you’re approaching them; what you can offer; and what’s in it for them. Sometimes financial rewards can crop up in conversation; at other times, the organisations are just happy to have a relationship with a good quality supplier they can refer work to.
How do you grow the relationship?
Like any relationship, a strategic alliance partnership rarely just happens, kaboom. It requires things like:
Same target market: you may think you have the same target market – but do you? It’s best to double check than make assumptions.
- Goals: are you heading in the same direction, or do your goals converge?
- Rapport: feeling comfortable with the choice of partner is vital.
- Trust: developing trust takes time.
- Win-win: both parties have to gain something from the relationship, and both parties have to be prepared to put some time and effort into making it work.
- Communication: keeping in tough regularly is vital to the longevity of the partnership.
Not all companies you identify as possible partnerships work out; that’s just the nature of the game. And sometimes those strategic alliances fade in and out. The important thing is that you persevere and are consistent (and persistent) in your approach. Do it well, and in time you should uncover a goldmine of qualified referrals to your business.