When collaboration and competition collide, beautiful things can happen. This is what we like to refer to as COOPETITION. When you shift your thoughts from thinking everyone is out to steal your business to think about how we can work better together, then the magic can start to happen.
Have you ever meet someone and you find that you just click? You talk about what you do for work and they seem to understand you. They can contribute another point of view that is mutually beneficial. You think to yourself, wow, this person “gets me”.
This new connection you have made can possibly benefit your business even though they might be a competitor. During your conversation, you learn that they don’t like to do setups for inventory tracking. You then realize this is an opportunity, and say “Wow, I LOVE inventory.” They have a sparkle in their eye and say, “Really? I could have used you a few weeks ago on this big project I had to turn down.” Instead of losing a job in the future, they now have a person they can call when they have another project that is not in their wheelhouse. You should reciprocate and offer to send project their way when you can as well. You can both benefit and best serve your client’s needs. This is Coopetition.
How can you keep that from happening again?
There are a few things you should after a conversation like this:
- Grab their business card! Write a note on it how you can help them and how they can help you.
- Send an email to your new contact as soon as you get back to the office. Schedule a follow-up.
- Add them to your CRM and make notes so you can easily find their contact info.
- Figure out who does the billing, you could bill the client directly and pay a small referral fee or have your new partner pay your discounted rates and charge their customer directly.
- Make sure they provide the same level of customer service you do.
- Never ever poach the client or market to them.
Ways to make Coopetition work for you
Now that you understand the opportunities available by working together, you should start to network. Start in the areas that you are weak in, find other like-minded people that help balance the support side of your business. These people can help fill the missing pieces so you don’t have to turn away business!
DON’T LEAVE MONEY ON THE TABLE
There are many programs you can join for free and earn money for recommending their products. Join affiliate and/or partner programs to earn money while you sleep.
LISTEN TO YOUR GUT
Not everyone will be a good match to work with you. You want to be cautious and make sure they aren’t fishing for ideas from you. You want to be sure to find professionals that you can collaborate with. Always communicate clearly with the person that referred the work so that they will want to keep sending work your way. Work with people that make you smile. You don’t have to work with everyone!
Remember that there are plenty of fish in the sea and we can work together to do what we love!