I’ve been holding off on writing this blog because every time I think of the word, “alliances,” I can’t help but picture the TV show Survivor. And, when I think of Survivor, I think of my fellow blogger John Sciacca. He is, in his own words, the “foremost AV authority on Survivor.” Yet, the show is a primal example of how forming alliances can get you to the finish line. In the business world, this is a must for companies that aspire for growth and strength.
We’ve all seen Survivor at some point, right? A cluster of people, usually 16-18 (I had to consult with John on this), are dropped on a deserted island split into two teams who then have to survive the environment and each other. They are voted off the island (“the tribe has spoken”) one by one, until a soul survivor remains and claims the million-dollar prize.
When the contestants are first dropped off, they have to plan to survive. This about more than food and water—it's about forming alliances. And it doesn’t mean you’re friends with these folks until the end. But you do have common goal, and you work together to get there.
Shouldn’t we be doing the same thing in business?
(My comparison ends there. I’m not saying to go out and make false allegiances to pluck off each other, but I am saying there is power in numbers and you never know when you might need each other).
Recently, my company ran into an issue where we needed a part. Even if I ordered the part the day I needed it, it wouldn’t have been early enough for the client. On top of that, I really like this client. He’s a really good guy. I was in a pickle. So, via the power of Twitter, I asked a competitor if he had the part I needed. His company is about 25 miles away, and we’ve rarely competed against each other. He seems to be a guy with good morals, and I know he reads my blog (so he must also be brilliant). I asked him for help via Twitter and then gave him a ring.
He not only agreed to lend us the part, but also agreed to let us pick it up the following workday at this house.
Why would he do that?
Good guy? Maybe. Good business decision. I think so. Not only do I now “owe” him a favor, but I also believe an alliance has been created. I would definitely help him out if needed, and who knows where life will lead after that. Aren’t we stronger businesses together than apart?
Still not convinced that an alliance can push your business forward? Have you ever wondered how the coffee-flavored drink the Frappacino was born? It was via an alliance between Seattle-based Starbucks and Purchase, NY-based PepsiCo. Two companies on opposite sides of the country formed a relationship to get this drink into stores. The relationship moved Starbucks into the bottled-beverage market, while PepsiCo gained an innovative product with a well-branded partner. It was a perfect match…a perfect alliance.
Think about the alliances you could make in our industry. Do you have a relationship with your local IT company? How about with a computer repair guy? (Yes, we must know and understand networking, but we should also have a hand off point for large-scale IT and the hardware itself). Do you have an alliance with an electrician? Interior designer? Carpenter? One could also call these partnerships, but this is different type of relationship. An alliance is a pact, a coalition or even a friendship. Per Wikipedia, an alliance is made “to advance common goals and to secure common interest.” Couldn’t we all use a little more of this?
Outwit, outplay and outlast by forming the right alliances. You may find strength in your business that you otherwise would not have had.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is project manager/designer for Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.