Why You Should Network With Your Competition

Photo from MaxPixel.com

Photo from MaxPixel.com

Guest post by Networking For Nice People Club memberShawn Parrotte. Shawn is the Marketing Manager of Designli, a software development agency specializing in delivering certainty to the world of custom mobile and web applications. In his spare time, Shawn teaches music and loves to dabble in photography.

Competitors. You should hunt them down and destroy them….right?

Wrong!

Despite what you may think, you don’t run your business quite as effectively as you could. And, you may not actually know everything there is to know about your industry. This is where analyzing what your competitors are doing, and getting to know them on a deep level, can lend some help.

Networking with your competitors is something that is often overlooked. This may very well be because business people hold resentment towards their competition. Maybe they steal your customers, or are thought to hurt your ability to stand out in your market. Whatever the reason for that resentment, here are just a few reasons why you should find it within yourself to ask your competitors for a coffee:

Building Respect Builds Partnerships

When was the last time your business was out of capacity for the services you provide? When your competition is in this sort of situation, wouldn’t it be nice if they turned to you and your team? On the same token, maybe your competition doesn’t have 100% the same offerings that you do, and when their customers ask for those types of offerings they could use somewhere to turn.

Although you may at first find yourself at odds, companies in similar industries can lean on one another quite a bit. Whether that be referring business that isn’t quite the right fit, or sharing resources of one kind or another, there is often an avenue for partnership that you wouldn’t have recognized if it weren’t for your networking.

In some cases, there is even room for forming joint product or service offerings. Pooling resources into one effort - whether that be a marketing campaign to brag about your industry or a new service that you are more capable executing together - there are more opportunities together than apart.

Learning as a Mindset

As a business owner, it’s important not to get stuck in your ways. This means learning how others in your industry do what they do, and recognizing if a competitor’s methodologies are better than your own.

Odds are, there are things you can learn from getting to know the inner workings of another business. You won’t be an open book, of course, but do yourself a favor and listen to the competitor’s sales pitch. How does it compare to your own?

Awareness for Your Solution

Believe it or not, your competitors are helping to warm the market up for your solution. Just ask any company that invents their own product and tries to sell to a market that really doesn’t exist yet. They’ll tell you that it’s quite the challenge!

When other businesses market their competitive products or services, they are helping create and/or nurture the market that you’ll be selling to as well. This warms up buyers, making them open to the solution that is in your wheelhouse. Even if it’s not your company that ends up selling to a particular customer, the more awareness there is around what you’re selling, the less of a customer education barrier there is when you push your own sales.

Approaching networking in a more positive light is important - even if the person you’re networking with has a similar product or service to yours... Odds are good that there are dozens of competitors in your area doing similar things; the potential for those connections to blossom into valuable relationships are bigger than you may think, so don’t sweep them under the rug! In fact, seek out those with similar business models and ask them for a quick coffee meeting next week…. you’ll be glad you did.