I have always found that one of the fastest and most sustainable ways to attract new clients to your business is through building powerful Strategic Alliances with other professionals that work with a similar (if not identical) Divine Ideal Client. In the 13 years I have been in business, I have had many powerful Strategic Alliances. In that time, I have gotten anywhere from 20-80% of my clients through referrals or work with these Alliances I have also taught and guided hundreds of my clients in creating fun & profitable Strategic Alliances with other professionals, many of them leading to a 20-30% increase in their profitability. And yet, very few business owners create fun, profitable Strategic Alliances that last. Why?
I’ll use an example that many of you can probably relate to: You meet another professional at a networking event, you think “wow, they are amazing”, you become a bit enamored with them and get excited about connecting with them again, you meet for coffee and you think “so much possibility!!”, you start to talk about all the different ways you can collaborate, you both get really charged up and enthusiastic, and you start to talk about how to actually execute on some of those ideas, and then, little by little, you start to see where you aren’t compatible, where they don’t want the same things as you, and/or they aren’t willing to give as much as you (or vice versa)… AND you may even move forward because you said you would, and then when the collaboration flops or doesn’t yield a good return on your time and energy (and sometimes money!), you think “maybe I’m not cut out for partnership”. Does any of this story sound familiar? Believe me, I’ve been down this path before myself and I’ve had HUGE learning opportunities through those failures. I’ve also been lucky to have some amazing Strategic Alliances, like Erika Watson, Sage Lavine, John Bowen and Lou Kertesz, who helped me design a better way to partner – both for myself and my entrepreneurial clients.
Partnership is not easy even in the best of circumstances, but it is unbelievably rewarding. There are strategies you can put in place to make sure you choose the right partners with whom to collaborate and choose the right strategies with which to collaborate given your businesses and I want to help you do that – which is why I’m having a FREE WEBINAR for my audience, my Strategic Alliances’ audiences, and anyone in your community that you want to pass this on to called “Savvy Strategic Alliances – 6 Steps to creating Fun & Profitable Strategic Alliances with Other Professionals”. CLICK HERE if you want to learn more.
One of the most important elements of Powerful Strategic Alliances to know before you consider forming a Strategic Alliance are the 4 Levels of Successful, Savvy Strategic Alliances:
You start at the bottom of the pyramid, and you should not go on to the next level of the pyramid until you have mastered that level. One of the biggest challenges that I’ve seen is that entrepreneurs get SO enthusiastic about a partnership that they don’t slow down and make sure a strong Foundation is in place. Often times, people go right to Formalization even before a clear Foundation is established. As an example, one of my clients yesterday told me that she had an exploratory meeting with a potential Strategic Alliance. She was very excited about this possibility and then, the next morning, he sent her an email with a 12 page contract he wanted her to sign. It was a little like having a wonderful first date and getting an email the next morning asking “will you marry me, but please sign this pre-nuptial agreement before we go to the chapel?” Best of intentions but very poor strategy.
So how do we proceed? The first step is to establish a strong Foundation. This can take many meetings before this is established – in fact, I recommend having at least 3 meetings to insure you are truly aligned. A strong Foundation includes these elements: 1) You serve the same clients but don’t compete 2) You have an aligned philosophy – meaning you are aligned with how the other person approaches and engages clients and vice versa 3) There is an opportunity for an equal energy exchange with that partner – that each of you will get as much as the other out of this alliance and 4) You really enjoy each other, admire each other and have chemistry (and, by the way, although this is absolutely critical, it is also the reason why many entrepreneurs overlook the other 3 elements). In my Free Webinar on September 20th, I will go into detail on how to pick the right partner and make sure that strong Foundation is in place before you “pass go”. I will even give you an interview guide to help you navigate these sometimes tricky waters. Remember, if you aren’t solid on all 4 criteria, it is unlikely that you will have a fun & profitable Strategic Alliance. If there is potential, keep talking until those 4 criteria are in place. If you realize along the line that you really aren’t a fit, acknowledge it and move on. Just like in the dating world, sometimes you meet the right person right away and sometimes you have to date a lot of people before you find the person you want to commit to and grow with as a partner.
After you have a strong Foundation, the next level is Collaboration. Pick ONE project that you can do together so you can assess whether you want to do more projects together or Formalize the relationship. Have regular communication check ins to see if you are on track and help bring you back on track if the energy begins to feel unequal or begins to wain.
When, and only when, you have successfully collaborated should you consider moving to the Formalization Level. Formalization can take many forms – as loose as a marketing strategy you will execute together (such as doing joint presentations or teleseminars) to as serious as a Joint Venture where you are both investing financially in a partnership together. Know that there are many options and the key is to find a form of Formalization that feels “light and right” for both of you and feels like an equal energy exchange.
Once you have navigated Formalization, you will always find that there are ways to improve the relationship and your partnership. Being intentional is key to the Optimization Level and requires open communication on how you can take the partnership to the next level and improve your relationship.
In my Free Webinar on September 20th, I will go into more details on how to move through these levels and the 6 steps that you should go through to navigate these levels with effectiveness.
Almost all of my clients have come to our relationship with soured attempts at Strategic Alliances from the past. In fact, 80% of partnerships fail because most enthusiastic entrepreneurs don’t know what they don’t know. The 20% that succeed are ones that approach them with loving care and intentionality. For many of my clients, 40-60% of their long term prospect flow comes from Strategic Alliances. Don’t let the failure rate scare you, as the process can be quite ease-ful and enjoyable if you start with the end in mind and put structure into place to support you. As one of my clients said to me today, this structure allows her and her potential alliance to “rest easy” and enjoy the process of building a relationship. The structure, she said, gave her a sense of freedom – Imagine that!
I hope that this helps you navigate the waters of Strategic Alliances and Partnerships. They have been one of the most rewarding pieces of my business and I hope they will be for you, as well!