You just read that subject line and thought “is this lady seriously asking this question?”

What is competition?

I am and I will tell you why. I hear day in and day out “but my competition isn’t doing this” or “But my competition is doing it this way.” A great writer, who just so happens to be my husband, wrote about why spying on your competition is useless.

I am not going down that road with this article, but his has some great points that help address the 2 statements I hear day in and out from client, prospects, and networking partners. But what I want to talk about today is the way some competitors in the triad are building stronger relationships and servicing their clients better because of it.

What is she talking about, Willis?

I am talking about losing sight of competition and beating your opponent at their own game, and changing the game entirely to being their friend, and helping each other grow. I know this sounds bat shit crazy, but you know what… it just might work!

Yeah I said it… it may actually be the best idea the Triad — scratch that — the business community at large has seen in a decade.

In my last post I talked about the emotional buy in from your company inside to outside. But this post coincides when it relates to how you view your “competitor” and what that term means to you and consequently your company. Let me tell you a story…

On Friday I had the sincere pleasure to attend an impromptu networking event with some dear friends of mine and some new friends I had not meat before. During the meeting it became clear the new people I was sitting with had the same business but different companies. This is a referral partner meeting. I had to ask how is this possible.

Well, these fine gentlemen in front of me shared that while they are doing the same service (but for different firms), they have found a way to refer business to each other. Well how is that possible?

They enlightened me that they either focus their efforts on a specific service that the other isn’t interested in or as skilled in doing, or they leverage each other in a time of “flood” where they are so inundated with business they can’t properly manage the new clients.

Instead of providing shotty/rushed service, or turning the client away, they call on each other to handle the account. Competitors who don’t compete but work in tandem for better pricing, better service, and all around win win win situation for each other and the clients at hand.

Better networking and team spirit

Better Business Networking

This scenario got me thinking about a BNI group (Business Networking International) that is located here in Winston Salem who has a similar philosophy. I have to thank my friend and colleague Glen Coleman for sharing this brilliant group with me.

The group has 4 bankers in it…. how is this possible? Every bank offers the same things… right? Well sure, but the individual bankers have specialties. This is what these 4 bankers in this group figured out and they are able to refer to each other for each other’s specialty. Isn’t that a better way to do business?

The moral of this story (which really became 2) is threefold.

First, there is more than enough business in the triad to go around. We do not need to steal, lie, cheat or down play our competitors to get the business. We simply have to become friends and colleagues with our competition to build a stronger community.

Secondly, competitors is a term used for sports teams and it should stay there. Business is about providing a product or service that people need and see value in, why then should 2 or 3 or 10 like-minded people not find a way to create win-win-win situations for them selves and their clients.

Isn’t it all about the clients and service anyway? So why compete and give lesser value to keep the check all to your self when you can give up what you don’t like, don’t want, and know that this relationship with stay good with the client because you know someone who does like and does want that bit of business.

Lastly, stop being a jack of all trades and master of none… master one and leverage your network.