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Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Value and Need for Association

Sometimes it is not what you know but who you know that matters.

Some of the largest deals and most successful mergers that have taken place have come as a result of associations. It is the proverbial “contact list” that opens the door of possibilities to unlikely opportunities for creative individuals.

A few years ago I was on a personal campaign to meet a list of people that I deemed “in the know.” These people varied from business men and women to pastors and or community leaders. Each week I contacted someone on my list and scheduled a meeting to introduce myself.

Unknowingly, I was gaining access and association with more and more people even if I didn’t know them directly. Personal contact with nearly anyone I imagined was one or two phone calls away.

After a meeting with former Secretary of State, Pat Miller, where she suggested I read a book by author Malcom Gladwell called The Tipping Point I began to imagine what would happen if businesses and public municipalities engaged in mass association. What if we would intentionally set out to introduce ourselves to every company, group, or organization that we deemed of value from around the world?

Initially, when thinking about jobs/ employment you may look for the top companies in an effort to get them to consider relocation or to employ local people, in contrast when you think as a business owner you may think in terms of serviceability. How can we create companies to service mega companies that already exist?

The first step is identifying the industries that exist. Below is a listing of industries.

Wholesale, Transportation Energy, Storage, Technology and Communications, Services, Retail, Public Services, Education, Recreation, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Food and Agriculture, Finance and Insurance, and Construction and Real Estate

After determining the industries that have the highest profitability and most interest, a short list of the top 10 companies in each industry might be targeted. If I were to think in a sense of branding, marketing, and advertising our community here is an example from one industry that I would try intently to make a formal introduction. Since our community has a history in manufacturing let us start there (strictly for an example).

Candy manufacturing is a $17 billion dollar industry. The largest 50 companies hold less than 40% of the market. The three major segments of the candy manufacturing industry are related to companies that make chocolate, companies that buy pre-made chocolate and companies that make non-chocolate based candies.

A simple introduction of location/ proximity may offer executives a fresh avenue to explore future expansions, mergers, relocation, etc. The goal is to develop a comprehensive list of companies to start the steady task to accomplishing reach and frequency in marketing, advertising and/or simply introducing a ready workforce in a depressed economy. Proper associations now may lead to successful partnerships later.

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