Note: This article was originally published in October 2010. We’ve updated it and edited it since joining the social business networking site Alignable. We invite your thoughts on how to get the best use from B2B social networking sites.
Alliances are important
As a small business owner I seek to provide value to my clients. My firm offers an honest appraisal of the services which, in our professional opinion, the client needs. Most of the time we provide all services directly, but when requirements call for a larger scope beyond our immediate ability to serve all the client’s needs, we provide services through associates.
We’ve chosen to stay small and have opted not to carry the overhead of employees, preferring an alliance of select colleagues with whom we partner to meet a client’s goals. So it’s important that our alliance mirror the work ethic, value proposition and attitude that we offer clients.
We’ve been pretty fortunate to have found some incredible alliance partners who have helped us grow our business. We recommend them heartily and often. We trust them to provide superior services.
What’s even more wonderful is that we can trust each of the business owners to do the right thing.
Taking and not giving
In the past we’ve experienced situations where people were not truthful. We were taken advantage of in some instances and in others; we learned that other businesses suffered, were tricked, or deceived.
What frustrates us is that these people took advantage of a situation of privilege. Obviously, they no longer have our trust. They have destroyed one of the most essential assets they have: their reputation.
We are the company we keep
It’s essential for small businesses to have alliances. It helps grow a circle of influence or gain new clients as well as strengthen the business community. Just be sure that when you select your alliance partners, you can trust them when they are out of your sight.
How do you connect with people who may refer business?
We’ve recently joined Alignable. The site says it is, “the Small and Local Business Network.” As with many other social networking sites, it is designed to leverage your connections. The goal is to get to know other business owners and share referrals.
Face to face networking groups such as BNI are still viable for new businesses and those with consumer focused services. LinkedIn exists to help us leverage our professional history and contacts and is one to one. Alignable seems to be company to company and in some instances individual to individual.
Have you tried Alignable? What are your thoughts about the site? Will you use social networking sites like this one to grow your business? What tips can you share about using Alignable? More importantly, how will you vet businesses with whom your connect? How will you determine if their ethics mesh with yours and they are a fit for mutual benefit? Please share your thoughts.