Alliance development and management used to be simple. Find the group of potential allies you wanted, find where they meet, and get involved there. In the sharing economy, allies have become easier to find and encounter, but harder to know. With mega-gurus like Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Daymond John taking to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media sites, alliances bridge geographic and sociological boundaries. Linking and touching others has never been easier, but is that an alliance?
Remarkable connections can be formed with anyone, anywhere, anytime. The joy of building alliances then meets the fact that any meaningful relationship takes work. Even strong virtual relationships take time. Social networking is easily ignored. People must be engaged.
Alliances formed through sharing need management. Start with a description and objectives of the alliance. Business relationships require the right people and right companies. The right business relationships include people who bring something of value for your business, who you can add value to the relationship, who expand your ability to grow your partnership and who track mutual progress.
- Bring something of value – With so many people around us, we do not have time to develop meaningful relationships with just anyone. What are your goals for developing alliances? Which alliances will bring you closer to these goals? Sometimes your goals are training replacements, expanding sales contacts, or growing your supply chain. These different goals all require different individuals to fulfill.
- Add value constantly – In the collaborative economy, people are increasingly finding partners who bring value to their lives. If you do not have something to offer your alliance partner, how do you expect them to reciprocate? You might present yourself as a partner, as a potential supplier, as a customer or more, but alliances require mutual sharing.
- Expand alliances – Alliances grow, or they die. If you are building relationships, make certain to manage them so that you are being introduced to more people and building a stronger alliance.
- Track alliance – As you grow the alliance, measure your mutual successes and failures. Communicate constantly with partners. Plan together and grow together. Are collective goals being reached? Are mutual conditions of success for the alliance being met?
In the sharing economy, alliances have so much more potential, but management is difficult and required. Social media creates connections, but is it really a collaborative business relationship? Nothing beats one-on-one relationships.