Chamber of Commerce
SF Chamber Article – Business Alliance Program
Written by Ian J.
Blei, President of Up & Running Consulting
Services Chair of Business Alliance Group III.
Business Alliance Increases Closed Business Dollars from
$80,000 per year to $500,000 per year in only five years!
Alliance: Past, Present, and Future
In 1995, the Business
Alliance Program was a "leads exchange" program
designed to help people network and hopefully get some
business in the process. There were four groups with an
average of 20 or so people in each. The program worked as
well as any other leads exchange program, closing an
average of $80,000 per year between the four groups.
Around that time, some of
us started talking about making the program more
effective. We didn’t want to settle with being as good
as other groups – we wanted to be spectacular. As the
program is facilitated by an egalitarian volunteer
leadership, we began our "re-engineering
revolution" by becoming that leadership. Note to the
reader: in this program you can manifest the change you
want to see!
The new leadership set
about finding out and implementing strategies to improve
Business Alliance the way you improve any business;
through communication and relationships.
First we listened to what
people really wanted to get out of the program. People
didn’t just want leads. Leads were only a means to an
end. People wanted to build their businesses, and that
takes more than leads.
You need to be able to
talk about your business comfortably and confidently in
different settings and situations. You need a support
group to help you accomplish that. And rather than working
with leads of varying degrees of frostiness, when you get
to really know someone, you get nice hot referrals.
The focus needed to shift
toward Personal Development and Relationship Building, and
away from the old, more common forms of Leads Exchange
Program. To do this, we needed the support of the Chamber
in trusting that if we built the relationships, the leads
would come. The Chamber was completely supportive and
shared our vision enthusiastically.
With that support, we
went about leading our groups in building their
confidence, skills, and facilitating relationship-oriented
networking. Rather than demanding that people supply
"x" number of leads per meeting (which primarily
results in a high volume of low quality leads) we started
teaching members about "Virtual Organizations"
and strategic alliances.
Marianne McCall of
Marianne’s Flowers, who has participated for a record 24
consecutive semesters, agrees: "I love the way
Business Alliance has evolved over the years from a ‘dictatorial,
demanding leads’ point of view - no matter what
the quality - to one of relationship building in whatever
depth possible…With the old system cold leads would be
‘coughed up’ some of them as useless as reading
listings in the Yellow Pages, just to make an
Rather than look at each
other as competitors, we started seeing how much more we
could accomplish as allies. After all, the program is
called Business Alliance. People started getting to
know each other more than ever before, and started sharing
business more and more. As each semester passed, more
people built "virtual organizations" of group
members, expanded their circles, and both the
closed-dollars and closed-lead ratio statistics started a
Over the last year or so,
we have been closing an average of half a million dollars,
up from that $80 thousand five years ago. By any
standards, that’s phenomenal growth, and we’re not
done yet. As we become more comfortable and seasoned in
our approach, the growth continues. Continuity and
stability have become the ground on which the new
relationships can add, and we have no idea how far this
program will take us. What we do know is that we have the
power to make it what we need and want, and that makes it
a responsive program that works!
Leads Club in Town
members are encouraged to attend a meeting as a guest.
information call 415-352-8803 or sign
up as a guest online
Yes – Put me on the wait list for Business Alliance
Us | Join | Public
Policy | International |
Programs/Events | Business