Why you should network with your competitors

Business man with boxing gloves


Reaching out to your competitors can make your business stronger, says Kirsten Hendrich.

Business fosters competition. No matter what industry you work in, there are probably dozens of other companies nearby selling something similar. Of course, most of us can’t help but harbour resentment toward these competitors whom we perceive as detracting from business and hurting our bottom lines. But the truth, more often than not, is that competition fosters growth. Your competitors make you better: they push the boundaries of your industry, multiply your networking options, contribute to the success of your marketing campaigns, and fuel innovation. In most cases, healthy competition is essential for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Here’s why:

Better exposure

Whether you are selling a product or a service, it is extremely unlikely that you are the only company doing so. Believe it or not, this is a good thing. All businesses struggle against limited resources and constantly seek ways to make their investments go further. But most don’t realize that their competition helps them do precisely that. When a competing company markets the same thing you sell, they give consumers new reasons to want that product. Of course, their ads don’t help your specific band name but they do show consumers that your product is popular, widely desired, and attractive. After seeing ads for something similar, potential buyers will be much more likely to notice the qualities that make your product stand out.

Collaborative potential

Another reason to network with competitors is so you can turn them into allies. You likely share common goals, have resources that can be mutually beneficial when shared, and possess knowledge that can further your common interests. By reaching out, you open the door for collaborative possibilities, which can spark innovation that benefits everyone.

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It’s about who you know

Employees come and go, experienced professionals leave their jobs to start new businesses, and people’s professional interests are always changing. Ultimately, no one knows the industry better than the people who work in it. This, of course, includes competitors. So it is important to make as many bonds with them as possible today, so you can be in a position to benefit when circumstances change tomorrow.

The beauty of outsourcing

No business can do everything, nor would they want to. But when customers arrive with requests, the worst thing you can do is send them away empty handed. By connecting with the competition, you can ensure that you have the resources to point customers in the right direction, no matter what they ask for. In many cases, you can even earn about twenty percent of the profits if you are able to hire competitors to fill orders you can’t or don’t want to. This way everyone gains: the customer is happy, your competition is happy, and you’ve even made a sale to boost your own business.

The most successful business strategists are those who never stop forging new connections and enlarging their sphere of influence. For companies both big and small, adaptation and expansion are the cornerstones of success. And businesses can only evolve by fostering healthy exchange with those who understand the nuances of the industry. So it is a mistake to allow your company to stagnate when the resources you need are so close at hand. By connecting with competitors, you’ll be connecting with a world of new opportunities. If you haven’t started yet, it is time to change the way you do business.

*Kirsten Hendrich runs her own company, Kirsten Hendrich Jewellery. Her industry is small and close knit. She makes time to network with fellow professional jewellers and finds it a great way to exchange ideas and information, and she has formed partnerships with other professionals which has boosted her own business profits and theirs.

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