As business people we make it a habit to network and increase our sphere of influence. We join business groups, attend networking meetings, give speeches when ever possible and look to partner with other companies that may have similar interests and target markets, can add value to each other’s proposition yet are not competitive to our business or sales efforts.
Building a relationship with another individual or company takes time. You cannot just say ‘we are going to partner’, you must agree on how this partnership will work. It must be equally rewarding for both parties, and they also must enjoy working together as well. Considering the fact that often you spend more time with your business than you do with your family and friends, you want to “partner” with someone who complements your efforts and has the same type of work ethic. If this partnership is going to coexist while you each maintain other businesses, it’s important to be clear about how to use each other’s strengths in a complimentary fashion – you certainly don’t want a “Clash of the Titans” scenario developing between partners who are both business owners or executives with a strong need to control. Understanding both the similarities and the differences between you will help carve out the niche whereby coming together, you create a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Is this a partnership that will exist to help double your marketing muscle and halve your cost? Will it add relevant value for an audience you both serve, non-competitively? Is this a partnership that will give you both an opportunity to serve a new audience with the combined skills and resources you possess as a team? For example, as we, John Hill & Andrea Feinberg, became familiar with each other, we discovered a number of important similarities: we both truly enjoy our work and a consultative style of serving clients; we have a strong orientation toward providing quality work of high professional standards and accountability. We both enjoy writing and we have no problem in getting up in front of an audience, and presenting the foundation of our services. The nice thing about partnering is you have the opportunity to learn from each other and offer suggestions, as well as constructive advice that can be extremely beneficial to the growth of you, your company, and the partnership. Since this relationship is still in the start up stage, we have not had any disagreements, and perhaps it’s still too early, but it is something we both have to think about. To me, friction is healthy and, when viewed that way, it’s yet another benefit of partnership. The more points of view to which we’re each exposed, the more we can explore ideas our own mental framework may not have considered. As a result, our choices are informed ones; we add to our respective ‘tool kits’ and to our value proposition on behalf of clients and prospects.
Business is not black and white, but a series of grays, that require constant attention, patience and the ability to make the hard objective decisions when necessary. The criteria that we establish in this relationship must be something that we both agree upon and can work together to accomplish our goals and objectives of this relationship. What will we each invest- funds, time, expertise, resources? What do we each want to gain? Do we want to tackle each element as a team? Do we want to identify specific activities we’ll handle individually on behalf of the team? To just say that we want to “partner” and not take any steps to actually develop a plan that can be used for us to present to prospective clients would be an exercise in futility, and a waste of our time and effort. In my mind it follows that business rule; “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” We both have far too much business savvy to allow that to happen.
The following is my part of this partnership story and how we came to the conclusion that it may be to our advantage to form a business partnership. I first heard of Andrea Feinberg, President of Coaching Insight and what she did as a business coach before I actually had the pleasure of meeting her in person, at a networking meeting. It is obvious; from the first time you meet her that she is a business professional. She knows her subject matter, has an opinion, and can back it up with knowledge and experience. But more importantly, she really enjoys her work, and helping people. It is so important, especially when you are in business for yourself that you enjoy what you do. It is the difference between a career and just a job. As I tell people who ask about my work as a Trade Show Coach, “It really is my passion. I cannot think of anything more rewarding than to assist a company in having a successful trade show”
And this is how I, Andrea, easily found an opportunity to partner with John: we both are focused on enhancing existing elements within a client’s process mix. We both want to see a client thrive and benefit from changes they make in the way they do things; we don’t ask a client to add a new series of skills, equipment, products or relationships; we both want to see a client mine existing treasure for greater reward. John does this with trade show preparation, participation and follow-up. Andrea does it with intangible assets: internal communications, expectations, attitudes, reputation, relationships, values and employee skill sets.
John’s focus on trade shows is but one part of a company’s marketing plan that could easily be in excess of 17% of the total marketing funds available. So while he may be addressing only one facet of the marketing plan, the dollars involved make it critical that it be orchestrated with care and an experienced hand. An owner of a business making a substantial investment in a major trade show needs a lot of justification. Yet, it is a known fact that a major three day trade show done correctly will produce more qualified leads than a sales person, in the office, making cold calls for six months, and in some cases, in a year!
As a small business coach, Andrea’s role is to help a client broaden the perspective with which she sees the many hidden treasures possessed in their business and which are often taken for granted or minimized – relationships, reputation, processes, priorities, strengths, employee skills are among those.
Working together, we each offer our clients an opportunity to expand the value of their existing assets – whether it’s a presence at a trade show or the way the company manages employees’ time, goal setting or task assignment – to improve performance, productivity, creativity and long-term health and growth. If any partnership can offer that combination of rewards to its clients, as
well as the partners, it’s a huge win-win situation.