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 this 2-part blog post, I explore the downsides of one-too-many strategic partnerships, and how to decide which ones to keep and which ones to ditch.

When you are a small coaching and consultancy business like us, one of the best routes to market is via others. Others that you trust, like and, more importantly have the means, ability and desire to work with you, and find your work. However, you know the problem with buses? You wait for 20 minutes and then two come along at once? Well, we’ve got a similar problem with good strategic partners for our business. However, these potential partners are competitors of each other. Not so good.

Our problem is a real problem for many professionals. After all, when you know what you are looking for, it becomes easy to find it.

Why is having too many strategic partners a bad thing for your business and time?

Before we go any further, let’s examine why having too many strategic partners is a bad thing for you and your business. Or should I say, you and your focus?

Firstly, strong strategic partnerships take time to build. They don’t happen overnight or by magic. Any decent strategic partnership is based on seven things:

  • trust
  • friendship
  • opportunity
  • credibility
  • regular communication
  • shared goals
  • business and personal values alignment

(As an aside, I started off with a list of 3 things, and then thought about the good strategic partnerships I work within, and steadily increased the list to seven things!)

To build up the trust, credibility and friendship takes time. Time which you often don’t have. The time that you are talking, meeting, doing things for each other, is time which you could be billing your clients. In effect, until you have started to generate business from the relationship, everything you do before that point is investment. There is no guarantee that the investment in the relationship which pay off in the long term. Therefore, the more strategic partnerships you are juggling, the less time you have to actually focus on working with your clients and finding opportunities to work with more clients.

There is also another reason why you don’t want too many strategic partners. Very often a strategic partnership works in the long-term because each of you knows that the other sends you work. However, if you know that the person you send work to is also sending it to your competitors, it can be a sticking point. Not just a small sticking point, but a big, whopping, sore point. The sort of sore which can niggle at the relationship glue, and eventually, break it down. Therefore, you have to be very careful that you are not, to use an analogy, ‘putting it about a bit too much’ with your strategic partnerships. A little like dating, you could say.

In tomorrow’s blog post, we will look at what you can do when you have got one strategic partnership too many.