Learn How to Build Valuable Alliances in “The Secret Collaborative Economy”

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build valuable alliancesGreat Britain is fast becoming known for its web development communities. The  residual effect from this growth, like other tech-savvy cities, is enhancement of networking among freelancers and small businesses. So it should make sense for a book from the UK to captures the basics of this kind of economy.

A good attempt at capturing the basics is The Secret Collaborative Economy: More Clients, More Exposure, More Profit, Faster by Marsha Wright (@MarshaWright).  Wright is a vibrant business expert and media personality. She made her mark running numerous businesses since her teens. Today she has a client base that spans 20 countries and has been featured on BBC Radio, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine Radio, and other programs.  She has inspired many entrepreneurs to pick up their enterprise game, so I was inspired to pick up a review copy after a chance contact on Twitter.

So What is the Secret Economy?

According to Wright:

“It is the secret world where, behind closed doors, masterstrokes of marketing genius and business deals are done. You are probably living in a home, working in a building, drinking at a coffee shop, or using a cell phone where The Secret Collaborative Economy played a vital part.”

In short, it’s the value of collaboration – the value of interaction that is supporting the global entrepreneurial spirit.  Examining that value is the basis for the book’s 6 chapters.

Chapter 2 details Asset Points – the “tangible and intangible things you control,” while the topic of Chapter 3 seemed the most relatable to entrepreneurs offering B2B services, examining how to categorize your opportunities. Chapter 4 begins to combine the basics of ideas introduced in the earlier chapters, such as selecting clients and Strategic Asset Partners.  The last two chapters cover more ways to collaborate and solidify relationships.  Deeper Learning Interviews – discussions with Marsha – are included in each chapter to add more insights.

Wright states that this book is not intended to be motivational book.   I felt the book’s scope and presentation felt otherwise – few stats support the ideas espoused. But Wright conveys her experience in her recommendations, picking the ideas that need to be asked during business activities.   The result is a book that is motivational, but inclusive of critical thinking that prevents small businesses from succumbing to outright failure.

When she suggests “are we really solving problems” as a core question that entrepreneurs should ask themselves when launching a business, I recalled a similar observation noted by Reid Hoffman in the book “The Start Up of You.” It’s the idea of deciding on a product or service that really changes the world, not just hocking the latest energy drink or made-up product.

The approach also underlies the labels created for suggested concepts, such as the aforementioned Asset Points and the Environment of Suggestion, which is the idea of describing what you need to reciprocate.  Check out this quote regarding exposure:

“If this book does nothing else for you, I hope it crumbles…any beliefs or thoughts that all exposure is good exposure. The old adage ‘any news is good news is for journalists! Not for companies…I would rather 500,000 targeted people know about my product than 9 million of the general market who are likely uninterested.”

There are also good suggestions on choosing a style of reciprocation with contacts, such as the quote below:

“I would suggest that you chime in with something like “Have you seen our website, you know about us and what we do. Can you tell me what you think I can do to help open doors for you?” On delivering this question, you will find either a grateful recipient, or a flummoxed individual who has spent so long at the treadmill, that they need a moment to pull from memory what it is that they really need. Either way when you have asked that question, there is an ethical obligation that comes from the innate need for reciprocity. ”

Readers should be aware – promotional materials abound through the sections. I felt the material’s placement combined with the interview segments a bit distracting.  And while the suggestions are serviceable, I wished a few topics were explained with more details.  Wright notes the importance of considering one’s prior experiences as an asset, but even so, more examples of how prior assets can be outdated and irrelevant to a business would enrich the topic.  But my perspective comes from my own experiences and compares against other books I have read.  You’ll weigh this book’s value against your perspective as you read on.

Overall, The Secret Collaborative Economy is meant for small business owners who are still gun shy about effective networking, and need some brainstorming to set  their collaboration in an appealing way.

Readers should also consider books on products and service development as well as more specific books on financing your dreams. Books that I recalled include The Mesh and Spank The Bank (ironically the book mentions Bank author Karlene Sinclair Robinson).  Specific social media books like Google Plus for Business would be a terrific combination to get more value.

More experienced business owners will want more experienced detail, but for those who struggle to brand through networking, The Secret Collaborative Economy makes a good first start to strategic alliance basics.

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Pierre DeBois Pierre Debois is Associate Book Editor for Small Business Trends. He is the Founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and medium sized businesses that rely on web analytics data. A Gary, Indiana native, Pierre is currently based in Brooklyn. He blogs about marketing, finance, social media, and analytics at Zimana blog.