From the April 2007 issue of Entrepreneur

Do you want to catapult your global sales? Consider forming a strategic global alliance, or SGA. Partnerships with overseas companies are a safe way to rapidly expand into new international markets by allowing companies with a mutual need and objective to cooperate and share risks.

An SGA offers access to more efficient production, lower marketing costs, different technologies and additional sources of capital. This strategy works well for market entry or to shore up existing weaknesses and increase competitive strengths.

When I first started exporting foodstuff, I contacted Japanese trading company Mitsui & Co. Ltd. about piggybacking my products onto theirs. We had the suppliers and they had the distribution channels and customer base, so it was a good match.

How can your company form an SGA? Look for a company you already have a relationship with--maybe your best supplier or distributor, or a trading company that can't keep up with demand. A good partner has three characteristics: the right chemistry, trust (within the firm and between the firm and its partners) and a history of tangible results. Without these, the alliance will go nowhere. But if you create a synergistic relationship that delivers solutions, everyone wins.

Laurel Delaney runs GlobeTrade.com and LaurelDelaney.com, Chicago-based firms that specialize in international entrepreneurship.