Why in the world would anyone want to network with their competition?
Especially when the competition may discover a key business competitive advantage, steal a major customer, or poach a prized employee?
We all understand the importance of networking in our personal and professional circles but yet we often hesitate when networking with our competition.
But we understand that business, jobs, and even friendships come from people - not products, ideas, theories, experience, or services. People are at the heart of any company and connecting with them is one of the most important things a business owner can do.
Why Network With the Competition
So why should a business owner want to network with the competition? The following are three reasons to quite avoiding the competition and start networking with them:
One of the best things that can come from networking with your competition is to collaborate with them.
Collaboration could come in many different forms, but one example is to create industry awareness and increase overall industry sales.
For example, a friend of mine owns a small hot dog shop. If he were to collaborate with the local hot dog shops in town to create a chili dog competition, this event could create overall awareness for hot dog shops in the town.
If your industry isn't completely saturated in the local market, there are probably sever different ways you could increase industry awareness by collaborating with your competition.
Campaigns like “Got Milk?” and “Pure Michigan” are excellent examples of ads that designed to draw attention to a certain product rather than a certain business.
Many competitors often operate with different business models. This means that while competitors may have the same core business model, their target markets and specialized products and services will often differ.
For example, some landscape business specialize in regular maintenance and upkeep while other specialize in architectural landscape design.
Understanding your competitors specialties and how your business may be able to complement them can help to referrals between your businesses. Plus, if you aren’t able to service a customer in the way they want, wouldn’t it be better for you to pro-actively send them to someone you trust rather than them to find someone on their own who will try to acquire the long-term relationship that you couldn’t serve?
Entrepreneurs and business owners live in a lonely world. There is no cheering squad and rarely a good support team.
Last year, I had the privilege of being a part of a mastermind group. This was the first time I had done something like this, and I found it invaluable. While a few of the people in the group could have been viewed as competitors, it was amazing to be a part of a group of people who were all going through very similar things in our businesses.
While mastermind groups can vary in focus, I have found that they generally provide three main benefits for the members:
- Accountability. As a part of the group, members have an incentive to accomplish goals they discuss with the group. The regular meetings of the mastermind help to motivate the members to keep moving forward on things they may prefer to procrastinate.
- Collaboration. Mastermind groups often provide a great amount of support with their fellow member such as contributing to their platforms or being guests on their podcasts or live seminars.
- Encouragement. One of the greatest benefits of a mastermind group is the encouragement that is received from other members of the group. Entrepreneurs often deal with insecurities, and having a group of peers who understand, and believe in you is an amazing thing to be a part of.
While mastermind groups have been a trend for online businesses, brick and mortar businesses can greatly benefit from these groups as well.
A Question For You
What benefits have you gained from networking with your competition?