The path to becoming an industry leader has its share of built and burnt bridges – especially within one’s own industry. However, there’s more than one reason why you should start paying special attention to industry partners along your path to success.
In business, relationships and reciprocity go far. A small act of kindness, referral, etc. can offer rewards that are exponentially more valuable than the effort entailed.
Your industry is a network of individual businesses (e.g. suppliers, vendors, investors, customers, competing businesses, etc.) with their own goals. Aligning these goals with those of your company can create relationships that expand beyond traditional business barriers.
By being the hand that reaches out to others, it marks you as a leader. With the right combined effort you can lead an industry that collectively is more successful than a few of its parts.
Helping Others Thrive
“One of the keys to becoming a successful business owner is to help others around you thrive. If you’re a one person show, you can only go so far, but if you have a team of people equipped to take on challenges that’s when you really become an industry leader,” suggests Mike Brcic, Chief Happiness Officer, Sacred Rides, a mountain bike adventures company.
This can even be applied to forging relationships with competitors. “There’s a disarming effect when you meet a competitor face to face… You start to see one another as human beings,” author and publisher Michael Dalton Johnson explains.
“I’ve had lunch with competitors who started telling me their plans and talking about new developments in the industry quite openly. And I’ve become friends and developed collegial relationships with competitors. In fact, some have actually referred clients to me that they couldn’t handle… So, there’s a lot to be gained primarily to demystify and put a face on them and see the mentality behind them and what you’re up against,” he adds.
Forging Powerful Networks
Having partners in your industry you can assist and those that can offer help creates a mutual trust that is hard to come by otherwise. Trust can lead to new opportunities and create grass roots advocates to reinforce the credibility and reputation you seek.
Encourage this line of thinking within your company and it has the potential to foster a gratifying network of relationships.
By simply sharing resources and knowledge you can create a rapid network of communication that vicariously learns and grows alongside each other. This provides an avenue for feedback and recognition that is invaluable to all parties involved.
Some say, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” but you’ll be surprised what can happen when you start to build more advocates and treat others less like enemies.
It can be surprising. As industry relationships expand so will the flow of business around your newly formed network. The stronger your network is the greater credibility and stronger business outcomes that follow. Lead the way with your own success and the industry will follow.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Sara Davis is the Director of Operations at Foxtail Marketing. When she isn’t working she enjoys being outdoors, and playing in the Utah mountains with her kids. Connect with @followfoxtail on Twitter.
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