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Three questions to ask to find the right strategic partnership and referral partners

By Brenda Thomson

A few weeks back I was speaking at a networking event about strategic alliances and joint ventures and someone in the audience asked me… how do you avoid the endless stream of coffees that go nowhere to find the RIGHT alliance partners for your business.


Here are the THREE things you need to match to make sure that you are choosing the right alliance partners for your business. You’ll find the three key questions to ask to avoid the endless coffee meetings that go nowhere right at the end.



First and foremost you MUST share the same target market. The better this fit, the more effective the alliance will be AND the more attractive you will be to potential alliance partners. Here’s a quick case study to show what I mean.

Suzanne is a bookkeeper. Now that means she works with small business owners.. lots of potential alliance partners there.  But why would any of them want to work with Suzanne rather than one of the other bookkeepers out there?

So let’s narrow that down a bit…Suzanne does a LOT of work with tradies… in fact 90% of her clients are tradies and she has started to build a reputation as the go to bookkeeper for tradies.

Now if Suzanne wants to find the RIGHT alliance partners she needs to look for other businesses who specialise in working with tradies.  The better the fit, the more powerful the alliances.



It doesn’t matter how well matched your ideal clients are… if you don’t share the same values the alliance is doomed to failure from the start… just like marrying someone who doesn’t have the same values.

There’s a saying I saw somewhere about meeting customer demands

There is quick, cheap, and quality. I can give you any two.. but you can’t have all three!

Most customers and most providers value one of these above all the others… if you and your customers typically value quality above all else then avoid alliances with a provider whose primary focus is money.



It doesn’t matter how good the ideal client match or how closely aligned your values…if your goals aren’t aligned then a strategic alliance will just end up as a bright shiny object distracting you from achieving your business goals and you will end up resenting one another.

ONE key question you need to ask yourself when making a decision about a potential alliance partnership..

Can this partnership help me achieve my current goals more quickly, easily, effectively or affordably?

If the answer is NO, or not right now… then now is not the right time for that partnership. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t build a relationship, or help the other person. You should do both those things as much as you can, as long as you don’t derail your own journey.

So here’s how you avoid the endless stream of coffees that go no-where…

Ask three key questions before you arrange a meeting…

  1. Who are your ideal clients?
  2. What are your top three business values?
  3. What are your goals for your business over the next 12 months?

You’ll save yourself and the other person a LOT of wasted coffees, try it and see how it works.

Brenda Thomson

Brenda Thomson

CEO and Founder, Synergy48 Group

Brenda has an honours degree in organizational psychology and a Graduate Certificate in training and development and she is an experienced trainer, facilitator and counsellor. She is a firm believer in mutual collaboration combined with a practical, hands on tools, strategies and systems as the most effective way to achieve real results in business. 

Brenda has over 20 years of experience training in communication, team work, time management, productivity, organisation and strategic planning in large organisations. She is also the developer of the Business Benchmarking Toolkit used by Synergy48 Group members and clients to identify areas for improvement in their business processes.

Brenda is a sought after mentor, speaker and trainer in the areas of strategic partnerships and networking with a difference.  She is passionate about actively giving back to the community. In addition to donating her speaking fees and a proportion of every Synergy48 Group membership to provide microfinance to help women in Malawi to start their own businesses, Brenda has climbed the Himalayas to raise money for Kids Help Line and helped lay a pipeline to supply water to a remote village in Tanzania.


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