Let us partner for a change, can we?

The past two weeks I’ve been busy following up with a bunch of recruitment agencies for hiring a couple of graphic and presentation design resources. Heard back from half a dozen of them this morning and it wasn’t pleasant. Apparently, these companies have a criteria that my firm doesn’t fall into and hence they cannot work with me.

Of course, I had to push back for an explanation. It’s only fair to ask one! They all essentially said that “since your organisation also does staffing, we see you as a competitor and a threat.” I tried to explain that my geography focuses just on marketing services and I need resources for my company and not my clients. Nobody bothered to listen. Nothing!

I remember I received a similar response many years back when I approached a sales training organization to learn how to sell my services. I was a struggling training and facilitator wanting to ramp up the game. The training organization didn’t let me sign up for a workshop fearing I would steal their content.

I agree. The concerns are valid but how exactly does imposing a policy help matters? Particularly for someone at the receiving end? My challenges weren’t addressed and I still had to figure out a way to resolve them myself!

A couple of years back, one of my friends faced a similar issue. He wanted to setup his own strength training facility but wanted to partner with established gyms in what was a very fair arrangement. But nobody would listen. Heck, they were shit scared that he would steal their clients!

That was a disappointing experience.

Now, we definitely know that collaborating is far better than competing. right? Yet we fail to practice it when the rubber meets the road! Why is that so? And upon some reflection I have realised that people and organisations consider “collaboration” as something that’s done internally. As in within or across their teams. Sure, sometimes they would hire a consultant to do stuff. But they would rather die than engage a competitor and swaps ideas.

Can two organizations doing the exact same nature of business not work synergistically? I think we can. Of course, the dynamics are different and making it work needs real skills and expertise but it definitely is doable. It’s competition. Not a war! Making it work, however, is pure hard work.

And that’s where stupid corporate policies come in. If you’re asking, “Sunil, would you be willing to collaborate with a competitor?” If working together benefits both entities, why not?

Is this way too idealistic for you? Well, consider this:

  1. That sales training organization rejecting a struggling freelancer drove him to do his own research and come up with a sales training program himself! And gave away half of the methodologies that he learned. His friends loved it!
  2. My friend went on to establish his own strength and conditioning facility. And he’s giving away all his secrets as well! But helping people to get stronger through the sport of Powerlifting.
  3. I’m seriously considering diving into staffing and recruitment for my entity and resolve my challenges and helping my clients (including potential clients) scale their marketing efforts effectively.

I guess something can create competitors out of thin air. We live and learn! And my biggest learning has been this — you either collaborate or create (unnecessary) competition that’s not even worth the trouble. But then, would you?

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