One of the corner stones of any professional’s referral marketing strategy needs to be collaborating with other like-minded professionals, who share a complementary network or target market. After all, the more people who can be hunting for referrals for you, the greater your reach and influence.

However, it can become all too easy to enter into strategic partnerships, and not get the impact or results you want from them. In the second partner of this 2-part blog post, (1st part here) I explore the downsides of one-too-many strategic partnerships, and how to decide which ones to keep and which ones to ditch.

How to decide on which strategic partnerships to keep and which to ditch?

This is a difficult question, because, very often, many of the seven essential ingredients are present in a relationship. (Probably, part of the reason you decided to help each other out in the first place.) However, it will be the missing ingredients which will hold the clue to which strategic partnerships to stick with.

I was talking with one of my new strategic partners last week, trying to work out when to send him work and when to bring in his known, respected and trusted competitor. They both, on the surface of it, offered the same skill set. When we talked this through, actually, we realised that the question would resolve itself over time. Over time, one relationship would develop faster and stronger than the other. This could be because we are working together on mutual clients more often, or because we are socialising together more often. However as a result, this will be the person who I will refer in more and more as time goes by.

At this point in time, do we know which relationship will win out? Not at the moment. More importantly, that’s OK – as long as I am honest and open with both parties, then the question will resolve itself over time. Of course, I could keep on both strategic partnerships, and between the three of us we could grow the size of the pie bigger for all of us. For me, that’s the ideal scenario.

What should you do now?

Before you start ditching or starting new strategic partnerships, take a moment to reflect. Who in your network have you either a formal or informal strategic partnership? This could as a member of a BNI-type group, or could be something you have created between the two of you.

Go down your list and rank each person for the 7 ingredients we talked about in the 1st part of this article. You may like to ‘weight’ the ingredients. You may find that opportunity is more important to you than friendship. Then answer these questions:

  • Who is your most important strategic partnership? What do you need to do to make it even more effective?
  • What is your least effective strategic partnership? Do you ditch or focus on making it effective?
  • Are any of your partnerships bringing you into conflict? If so, what can you do to reduce the tensions?
  • If you needed to increase your chargeable time, which relationship would you spend less time with, as it wouldn’t impact your business development in the short, medium or long term?
How do you decide on the strategic partnerships you will forge?