Expanding With a Business Alliance

Alliances are worth their weight in business gold.

In eight minutes, you can meet that special someone. Tom Jaffee, the mastermind behind Boston-based 8minuteDating.com, found even more than that at one of his matchmaking parties.

At a typical 8minuteDating event, single men and women gather at a restaurant, chat one-on-one for eight minutes, and then move on to the next table. After the event, couples who like each other can meet again. Last January, Adam Segel, an executive with Tele-Publishing International(TPI), happened to be having dinner with his mother at a restaurant that was hosting an 8minuteDating event at the same time. TPI runs the personal ad pages for 550 newspapers in the United States.

Never one to pass up an opportunity, Jaffee, 40, introduced himself and sat down at Segel's table for about eight minutes. Each quickly described what they did, their needs and what they could offer the other. So, like many singles at the event, they exchanged e-mail messages and eventually met again in person to see if they were right for each other. It wasn't the typical way to form a business alliance, but it worked.

No matter how it is formed, a smart business alliance can help you enter a new market, reach more customers, freeze out a competitor or fill a gap in your company's abilities. These partnerships take many forms, from joint sales calls or distributing each other's wares to developing new products or services. And this newfound competitive advantage can happen without a major cash infusion.

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This article was originally published in the March 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Gold Bond.

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