Why is it that some alliances work like a dream whereas others never even get off the ground? Well, having been recently married I love using the analogy of relationships and marriage to explain strategic alliances.

If you want a relationship to work, there has to be a period where trust and attraction are built between the 2 people involved. This ‘dating period’ takes time and takes conscious effort. Emotions are involved and everything you do either builds trust, reduces it or even destroys it. Many relationships don’t work because the people aren’t compatible or the trust doesn’t exist.

Time is important. If one person suddenly suggests marriage after 2 dates, the other will probably get scared and run a mile. It’s no different in business. What we’re talking about is building a relationship that will ultimately give both parties the biggest possible win.

So what are the key elements to make it happen. Well just like a good marriage:

1) Trust – very often I meet business people and after a few minutes of positive conversation they suggest that we may be able to work together or even refer business to each other. Whilst they may genuinely believe that to be the case, it’s like asking someone to marry you on the 1st date. In your eagerness and excitement, you’ve jumped in far too soon.

Trust and relationship have not been established. Credibility is crucial too. Both parties need to understand each other’s businesses fully – the service levels, vision, values, culture, customer testimonials and more. After all if there isn’t a fit, then it will never work. So you’ve got to do your homework on each other during the courting period, before you can announce that you’re in a relationship.

2) Liking – very simple. The partner could represent the best opportunity you’ve ever had, but if the 2 people dont like each other for whatever reason there is no way a partnership will work.

3) Time – Strategic alliances are not quick result strategies. Mine have taken months and sometimes years to develop. That’s because time is required to build that trust and credibility mentioned above. Too often business owners don’t invest their time to do this and then wonder why the partner has gone cold or isn’t co-operating. You must be prepared and committed to invest that time for a long term gain.