Do you remember the legendary moment when Steve Ballmer, then CEO of Microsoft went crazy on stage, repeating "Developers!" like a mantra? If not, check this very short YouTube video of it. Replace "Developers!" with "Relationships" and you will get the key to success in many business domains and air traffic management is no exception. In such a small niche, business is not about relationships, it is ONLY about relationships. Well, at least mostly... A very common saying goes "If you hear of a call for tenders for the first time when it gets published, you are already too late". What this means is that organisations buying products or service often have a preferred supplier in mind. They also likely discussed with several candidates ahead of the formal tendering process. This helps ensuring the process runs smoothly and it is a rather healthy thing.
An unexpected tenderer can have chances but the negotiation process is much easier and comfortable if you know you counterpart before starting.
How to build strong business relationships?
This is a simple question and it has a simple answer: build credibility by providing value over time. Work on your networking, get to know more people of the industry. When you get to learn someone new, take time to exchange, learn their needs, understand what issues they are dealing with. Take time to explain what you are interested in, show that you know your craft and show consistency. Even if you have a leading-edge, disrupting product, you will have to show it. Too much secrecy is not good and the risk of being copied exists anyway. Once your breakthrough will be in operation somewhere, competition gets access to it, sooner or later.
Don't forget that long lasting relationships are bi-directional. You have to bring value to be on someone's radar. You will also learn a lot in the process, which will in turn increase your value and credibility.
This is simple but the process takes time and effort. Air traffic management has relatively long cycles and business takes time to build. Visit trade shows, attend webinars, participate in Linkedin groups, engage with the community.
Are there shortcuts?
There is no free lunch. Building credibility and a strong network takes time. But there are ways to speed-up the process. Social networks and especially Linkedin allow to get in touch with more people, more rapidly than in "real"-life. But changing the medium does not change the basics: you must build credibility by providing value over time.
We can help...
Collecting information on the industry and the market is a time consuming process. This is something we do on a daily basis, for example by scanning the European Tenders Electronic Daily database and many other sources. This is how we find information for this website, our Linkedin page, the weekly reviews and our newsletter. You can use all these tools to boost your market knowledge.
The best way to get accelerate your networking is by getting a strong wingman. Someone who know the industry, who has a network and who already established their own credibility. A quick wat to start a new relationship is to be introduced by someone that the other partner already trusts. This works like a transfer of credibility. Thanks to our strong, well established network, we often help organisations looking for suppliers, customers or partners for a project. Doing so, we help both parties, enable more business and provide more value to all.
Don't hesitate to contact us and let us discuss how we could support you in building strong, long lasting and profitable business relationships in the air traffic management community.