Strategic partnerships are the most powerful way to generate significant streams of referral business. To understand the concept, consider the analogy of the fisherman. His fish are to him what your clients are to you.

Every day the fisherman goes to the mountain lake to catch some trout. If he does not catch fish his family goes hungry. If he catches a lot of fish, he does not have to work the next day. Simply attracting the fish is not enough, he needs to land them in the boat. There are other fishermen on the lake as well, so he needs to be smarter than his competition.

Then one day a stranger approached and asked for some help. He was a forest ranger who worked for the hatchery that stocked all of the trout in the lake. His tanker truck was full of fish ready to be released into the lake when it quit running. He needed a ride to the hatchery to get some help, or all the fish would die.

The fisherman gave him a ride and once there, he could not believe his eyes. There were dozens of pools of trout of various sizes, from hatchings to full grown. There were millions of them.

To thank the fisherman for his help, the ranger gave him permission to fish at the hatchery lakes anytime he wanted to. There was no competition here and the fish were plentiful. The fisherman could now catch all the fish he needed for the entire week in just one day.

The forest ranger is a strategic partner for the fisherman. He has the ability to create life-changing opportunities just like your strategic partners can do for you. Who are your strategic partners and what are you doing to build relationships with them?

Why are you still fishing in the same lake as everyone else?

Bill Nordbrock is vice president of community relations for SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit group that offers free small-business counseling and mentoring by appointment at several locations. For information, go to, send an email to or call 505-3636.