For any business, the ability to forge and nurture effective, bilateral partnerships with a range of other businesses is essential if you’re not only to remain relevant and profitable in the short term, but also to grow and expand your reach within your particular market or industry and be around for the long term.
For smaller businesses, getting the attention of new customers can be a difficult and often very frustrating process. But by investing the time and resources into building a network of trusted and reliable partners, not only can you enjoy the benefits of new business, you’ll also potentially be exposed to myriad opportunities to gain insight into new streams of income and ways of working.
Choosing the Right Partners
That said, it’s extremely important to know who you intend collaborating with. A ‘partnership’ by definition links your hard-won reputation with that of someone else, so you need to be entirely comfortable in doing that.
If you’re serious about your long-term success, you should already have a pretty good idea of where your business sits in the market and who your competitors and potential allies are. But no matter how keen you are to start partnering up, the sensible advice is to avoid rushing in to anything without doing your due diligence. Take the time to do some in-depth research and, when you do identify a potential partner, make sure you’re considering them for the right reasons.
Will this partnership benefit your business? Will it allow you to add value to your existing services? Is it a viable (and profitable) long-term opportunity? What can you offer to them? Do you really know who it is you’re going to be collaborating with? These are all questions you should be able to answer beforeyou make any kind of an approach. (And the same applies if another business approaches you with a proposition of collaboration.)
What Networking Can Do for You
If your operation is agile enough to be receptive and respond to new ideas and opportunities, networking with other businesses can see you reap the benefits in a number of ways, some of which include:
- Sharing of ideas
- Access to industry developments and technology
- Engagement with trusted industry contacts
- Growth in your own knowledge and expertise
- The forging of long-lasting professional relationships
- Support to tackle industry challenges
- Opportunities for expansion through increased business opportunities
A Networking Case Study: Transport Exchange Group
One of the most clear-cut and easy to define examples of how networking and collaborative partnerships can work to the benefit of all parties involved is in the road transport freight industry.
The Transport Exchange Group (TEG) is the ‘UK’s leading provider of managed freight services for the domestic road transport industry’. Across their two platforms, Haulage Exchange and Courier Exchange, TEG has created an online network or ‘community’ of accredited haulage and courier operators, with the aim of facilitating them towards more effective, productive and profitable operations.
The platforms’ collaborative nature enables them to stay at the forefront of the industry and to identify the unique challenges faced by those working within it, and solve them through optimal use of technology, connectivity and other networking capabilities.
Using advanced technology functions such as Live Availability Maps and Smart Context and Location Engine technology (SCALE), members can post and bid for loads in real time, giving them expanded access to jobs and capacity. They also have access to a range of collaborative online tools, to make working with multiple partners seamless, secure and hassle free.
The platforms’ key feature is that members gain instant, fingertip access to a vast network of trusted trading partners. They can form long-lasting, profitable relationships and open their businesses up to new markets (and locations) they may not previously have considered or had the infrastructure to support, through the ability to sub-contract work to available drivers – putting a vast ‘virtual’ fleet at their disposal.
TEG boasts some impressive statistics in terms of their network’s reach:
- 38,600+ active users
- 6,400+ member businesses
- 51,200+ vehicles
- 2 million movements nationwide
Because CX and HX members must complete a robust accreditation process, and the platforms employ an innovative peer-rating system, users have complete visibility of who they’re partnering with – which takes away a whole level of stress in regards to securing reliable, compliant partnerships. Because of their reputation and reach, the two platforms are partnered themselves with the biggest names in telematics providers, meaning hassle-free integration and a collaborative framework of technology.
Reliable Partnerships Lead to Success
As the above case study demonstrates, creating a network of trusted and reliable partners is an extremely effective way of opening your business up to new opportunities, solving problems, meeting challenges and expanding your reach. But in these days of instant connectivity and rapidly moving technology it’s more than just a recommended strategy; it’s the only way forward for anyone looking for longevity in their chosen industry.
There are opportunities to generate reliable partnerships everywhere – be it through the raft of social media platforms, professional industry events, or membership to collaborative peer-driven online exchanges like those of the TEG.
By taking a collaborative rather than combative approach to business, and developing strong professional relationships, factors like lack of funds and limited resources and staff no longer have to be a roadblock to expansion.