Building multiple bridges to greater opportunityRyan FlorioFortune 500 companies, effective communicator, alliances A big part of my daily experience is spent interfacing with other professionals, either within mortgage firms or firms in the other industries I consult. I'm so grateful to have a career that relies heavily upon networking and building relationships, because connecting with people brings me a great deal of satisfaction. I learned from a very young age that business is about people, after all, and I am reminded of this continuously by the referrals that are generated from my long-term clients and associates. Recently, there's been a great deal of buzz from analysts who claim that building a relationship in business is not merely a feel-good exercise that we hope to benefit from someday. Wall Street analysts are noting emerging trends that indicate a savvy entrepreneur is one who forms multiple partnerships with other professionals or companies to marry resources in the creation of new services for their clients. A big-picture example of this philosophy is reflected in the practice of Fortune 500 companies that are actively developing partnerships with other companies to capitalize from one another's technologies. A previous business model might have shown a company's attempts to grow by focusing merely on internal research and product/service development. That is no longer the case, as companies today are recognizing the lost opportunities involved in waiting. Instead, they are actively seeking outside partnerships in new-business development. Google and Amazon are prime examples of companies who use this approach as they aggressively forge ahead with multiple alliances. It seems today that relationships in business have grown to have new meaning. Billion-dollar alliances have a lot to teach us about the future of our business practice. It may be worthwhile to consider whether you maintain the traditional, isolated position in our competitive marketplace. If so, you might begin to examine whether you can afford to remain autonomous. Is your skill set impacting your ability to produce in any way? Are you an effective communicator, and do you deliver information to you your clients in a way that is impacting? Are you performing consistently and achieving steady growth in your profits? If you have answered these questions honestly and made a true assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, you are now better equipped to create positive change in your career. The first way to do this is to create partnerships with individuals at work. I've noticed this is already happening in shops I visit throughout the country, typically with two people working in concert to provide a single customer their combined services. In doing so, they are capitalizing on one another's strengths and compensating for their weaknesses. The end result is greater accountability and increased sales. Another aspect of relationship I've been witnessing is the formation of alliances with professionals from complementary industries. Last week, I formed such an alliance with a financial planner who will educate my mortgage clients about financial vehicles that benefit new homeowners. Creating this relationship will provide my clients the opportunity to expand their knowledge base and gain credibility for their prospects and clients. The added value I am providing them will enhance our combined business efforts and offer another source of revenue generation. Next time you are having lunch with your co-workers or socializing at your local chamber of commerce happy hour, be willing to look outside the box and consider how these individuals might become bigger players in your life and impact your daily business experiences. By creating mergers with other professionals and building bridges to other industries, you will find multiple opportunities for unprecedented business growth. Ryan Florio is president and CEO of Cleveland-based SpecialClient.com, a Web-based company that offers automated Client Relationship Programs as a vehicle for client retention. He may be reached at (888) 863-6276 or e-mail [email protected].