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# Expanding your collaboration network (part II)

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# Expanding your collaboration network (part II)

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Yesterday I looked at some of the ways you can expand your collaboration network.  The post focused specifically on the kind of relationships that exist just between you and your partner (ie no other parties are involved).  Whilst these are great, in reality it’s likely that your partners will be connected to one another too in what are commonly referred to as closed connections.

This post will explore some of the ways you can look to grow your closed network of collaboration partners.  This is often a more integrated form of collaboration network as it reflects more the kind of hybrid organizational models we are increasingly seeing in the workplace.  Here are some ways you can expand your closed network.

Referrals

Referrals form the bedrock of closed relationships.  In their simplest form you can broker such an arrangement simply by referring one of your partners to another and suggest they work together.  You can see this kind of thing clearly in evidence with Toyota, where they’ve looked to extensively integrate their supply chain by having members of it working very closely with one another.  This can clearly be an effective strategy but it does require a lot of thought to ensure that the partners you’re matching up are in fact a good fit.

You can also work this the other way, by asking your existing partners to refer you to a 3rd party.  This approach will be common to many a networking aficionado, whereby you have a ‘target’ in mind, but rather than approaching them yourself, you ask a trusted intermediary to do so for you.

Form an alliance

This form of integration is probably most visible in the airline industry, where numerous carriers have joined forces to try and seek collaboration benefits through working more closely with one another.  To really benefit from such an alliance, you need companies in your market to perform broadly speaking the same kind of tasks, and for these tasks to be more efficiently formed centrally.  This could be back office operations, but we’re increasingly seeing companies working together on intellectual property issues in a similar way.

There may be other ways of building up your integrated collaboration network, but I think these cover most circumstances.

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