Networking and Alliances Key to Success

"Two of the fundamental principles of business are: Relationships trump credentials in buying (and many other business decisions), and It's not what you know, it's who you know that counts. These truisms show just how important business networking is, especially in an enterprise that doesn't have a lot of people or spare time to invest in relationship-building...

Networking is the process of building and nurturing business relationships. Alliances are contractual arrangements between two or more businesses to achieve shared objectives, usually with a limited life.

There are many good business reasons to network:

Improve knowledge about customer needs

Increase customer trust, and hence sales and penetration

Find new customers

Increase knowledge about markets and good business practices

Get answers to questions and business problems inexpensively

Market test or virally market new product or service ideas

Get your best customers to spread the word about your credentials and expertise (much more effective than self-promotion)

Find new suppliers, contractors, employees, advisors, or coaches

Conduct informal surveys to tap into the Wisdom of Crowds

Collaborate informally on open-source or other projects..."

From How to Save the World.