I took my Dad along to a recent Business Wealth Club networking meeting and it made me think how much the business environment has changed. When he was out on the road as a sales engineer from the 1960s to being a sales manager in the 70s and 80s and director in the 90s and 2000s he was employed by a company and travelled around his area visiting prospects and customers. He’d meet his colleagues at head office or regional offices and at the various exhibitions and dinners. There was no real line of communication with competitors, why should there have been? After all, his was the first generation to discover that a job is not for life, there wasn’t an environment of switching allegiances to rival companies.
Now it’s different. I know who my competition are and what they’re doing. I often team up with them to pitch for larger jobs o to work together on certain projects. We are in an age of joint ventures, of companies being smaller but teaming up to supply each other with extra knowledge or resources.
Looking around the room at the networking event I could see 150 people. I knew 75% of them personally. Even though many of their businesses are completely different to my own. I’d probably worked with about 15% of the room and had made profit making connections with 40%.
What’s changed since the late 20th century is the concept of silos, or companies as competing tribes. Most people wok for a small business with less than 100 employees. There’s much more interaction with people who don’t work for the same business and this has allowed, in the more entrepreneurial businesses to realise that cooperation and cross-company teamwork (often called Joint Ventures) is the new way to do business.
Photo by www.markdolmanstudios.co.uk
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