3 Reasons Why Sleeping With The Enemy Is A Good Idea

sleeping-with-the-enemy_200_200I am competitive and I say that proudly.  On any dimension in life or business, I like to “win”. In business the obvious corollary of winning is that your competitor loses. Right? Not so fast.

For many years in my former life I ran ad agencies. Big ones in Philadelphia and earlier in my career I was a management guy at BBDO/New York. Nothing more competitive than the ad business. All those Don Draper types drinking 3 martinis at lunch (I’ve never had a martini) But in the ad biz, there’s nothing like winning an account. Gotta love beating those no-talent hacks at XY&Z agency and maybe even sneaking in a stealth-like fashion and grabbing their accounts.

But I’ve come to realize that the most successful route in business is in fact to partner and even give without any expectation of payback. “When did you become a schmuck, Lonny”, you may ask. “Getting soft are you?”. Not at all. I’m just wiser now.

My thoughts were prompted when I read an interesting post by Eric Schwartz of print I don’t know Eric and know nothing about (guess they print stuff). But Eric is a smart fella. Eric’s post was called How Partnering with Your Competitors Can Be Good For Business.

I didn’t agree with every thought but there were 3 of his thoughts that rang true to me:

1. Referrals from Competitors Carry Great Weight.

If the account/business is not right for you, or you honestly think a competitor is better suited, say so and recommend them. A referral from a competitor carries great weight. And while there are not always “quid pro quos” in life, chances are in some ways it’ll come back to you

2. Collaboration Breeds Innovation

Sharing information and best practices, even among competitors,  can help everyone become better, more efficient and more profitable. We can all learn from others. And the wisest businesses are those which are open to learning and equally open to sharing.

3. Partnerships Make Customers Happy

Companies are happiest when their resources collaborate at the highest level. The “competing resources” vying for the client’s attention and affection can all succeed with strong partnerships.

In the end while the old adage “Tis better to give than to receive” may be a little over the top, the principle of giving first is in fact the smartest way to conduct business. Give selflessly and help others without expectation and it’ll come back to you in spades.

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