Partnership Marketing 101: Using Your Network to Your Advantage

By: Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting

If you’re not quite hip to partnership marketing yet, it’s time to grab a notepad and start taking notes. While you may be familiar with other forms of marketing (like that sponsored post you penned a few years ago), it’s possible that you’re overlooking one of your biggest assets: your network.

Regardless of how long you’ve been in your market, chances are that you’ve met some of your industry peers through events and networking groups. This begs the question – how are you using those relationships to grow your business and take your company to the next level? Here are your first steps to bringing in new business with thanks to your ever-expanding network.

Building Your Network

First and foremost, think about everybody that you know in your market, including those that you work with regularly and those that you aren’t quite familiar with yet. Ask yourself if there are any of them you’d like to get to know better and feel free to include other vendors that you may have never worked with. This will give you a good idea of who to approach and where to focus your efforts. If you’re new to the area, be sure you’re setting aside time to attend networking events and industry get-togethers so you can introduce yourself to people and starting gaining ‘friendors’ for your network.

Nurturing Your Relationships

Putting a face to a name is great, but it’s important to put your efforts into taking your relationship to the next level. Stay in touch in any way possible, even when you’re not working together – holiday and birthday cards are a nice touch to start. Connect with them on social media so you can stay up-to-date and congratulate them on big news. Go above and beyond by surprising your peers and clients with a memorable gift – we’ve done everything from Starbucks gift cards to cheeky notepads to Kindle e-book deliveries. It’s a nice way to say thank you, or simply just to say that you thought of them.

Refer Your Competitors

That probably sounds crazy to you, but hear me out. There are a finite number of weekends in a year and your company can only handle so much business. Say a prospect comes along and wants to book you on your busiest weekend and you simply cannot accommodate their event – if you send them along to a trusted competitor, your referral will speak volumes to the prospect and your competitor will appreciate the gesture and (hopefully) return it to you later. A referral system between competitors doesn’t have to be uncomfortable – connect on the things that you share in common and know that by helping others, you are actually helping yourself.

There’s no questions that referrals are worth their weight in gold and the more you develop a strong network, the more you’ll see the referrals flowing in. Invest the time into networking and relationship building – the end result will be well worth it, trust me!

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