Mention the word “competitor” or “competition” and many of us think of a race or something similar. If that’s the case then it becomes a win vs. lose situation, which we’d all agree can turn ugly.
Let’s start with a dose of reality: we all have competitors whether or not we think we do. Conventional wisdom would have many of us thinking that the goal is pretty straightforward: to squash the competition as a means of survival and staying ahead. Could there possibly be another perspective? Glad you asked–the answer is Yes!
My reason is best explained by sharing three recent examples from my own industry. They include:
a. When I initially began my business as a Corporate Communication & Speech Specialist in 1994, my expertise was limited to foreign accent reduction. Now in 2014, although I still see clients for this service, the majority of my business comes from either coaching or conducting workshops on how to be a better speaker in the business world. Being aware of a local competitor who dedicates herself to foreign accent reduction, I asked to meet with her in person to get more information. Now that I’ve done that, I have referred several foreign national clients to her and guess what happened next? Once my colleague completed her work with these individuals, she referred many of them back to me for assistance with developing a professional presentation. Here’s a great example of working jointly with a competitor to assist the same client.
b. A local organization asked me to be a co-presenter with another woman who was a direct competitor. Since she and I had never met, I suggested we do so to determine if we could work together. Once we agreed that we could both bring our talents to this project we collaborated on what turned out to be a well-received program and put us both in the limelight. As a result, one of the attendees in the workshop approached us and requested a proposal for a large-scale communication initiative. Here’s a great example of creating a collaboration with a competitor that brought each of us new business.
c. Years ago, prior to forming Profitable Speech, I studied under a woman on the west coast who specializes in foreign accent reduction. Over the years, I’ve been a loyal customer through purchasing her products (for my own clients) and attending her webinars. Recently while networking, I met an entrepreneur who wanted to refer one of her clients to me to reduce his foreign accent and told me he resided in California. Once I heard that, I thought he might be better served by my competitor who as mentioned earlier, is based on the west coast, so I made the connection. As part of following up to ensure all went smoothly, I also mentioned my new book (In 30 Seconds…Speak Like You Mean Business: You Are Your 30-Second Commercial!) and the fact that I have a workshop on this same topic. She immediately expressed interest in this and felt it would be an innovative tool for her clientele. Here’s a great example of a win-win situation resulting in the fact that I’m writing a proposal this week to offer my workshop as a webinar that will be featured on my competitor’s website for continuing education units (CEU).
So what do you think about my question in the title of this post? I hope you can see that answering YES is potentially in your best interests. Start to view your competitors in a new light and they may just view you as an asset vs. a threat. That’s the beauty of communication!