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Service Network Event – Friend or Foe

24th February 2011

Service Network Event – Friend or Foe

Service Network Event – Friend or Foe

Two heads are better than one?
In an age of coalition Government, the ‘Big Society’ agenda and focus on the entrepreneurial spirit, collaboration is emerging as an integral theme across all areas of society and industry. With the global economy tightening as never before, collaboration between businesses is absolutely vital for growth as well as profitability.

For SMEs, collaboration is fast becoming not only a realistic, but an essential route; working in partnership to win bigger contracts, access new markets and gain a stronger position in the marketplace. Collaboration solutions help people work smarter and drive business benefits by deepening valuable relationships, making better decisions faster, spurring innovation, and reducing costs.

However, for many businesses, there are very real concerns around knowledge sharing, particularly when it comes to disclosing ‘trade secrets’, and placing trust in external partners, often ‘competitors’, can be a huge hurdle to overcome.

So why should businesses collaborate? What are the personal skills and attributes required? How do you go about finding a partner to collaborate with? And once you have found that partner, how do you form an effective and mutually beneficial way of working together?

Service Network’s event ‘Friend or Foe? Not going it alone’ on the 17th March will help to answer these questions.

Anne Cuthbertson, from collaborative leadership consultants CPCR, who will be speaking at the Service Network event, explains that, ‘For collaborative working to really be successful, partners have to adopt a new way of working.  Sometimes partnerships need in-depth, impartial, sustained support whether in the private sector, public sector or across both. We work alongside leaders to help them through complex change and create the conditions for high performing collaboration.’

Opportunities for communication are everywhere in today’s media landscape, and making these first connections is key to the genesis of successful collaborations. As Darren Richardson from brand communications agency Gardiner Richardson explains that you need to identify ‘a little spark. Something that brings two people together. If you can find a point of shared interest, however big or small, you’ve got something you can build on. Make that connection and you’ve got a reason to carry on talking and that’s when the possibilities open up.’

One regional example of successful and innovative collaboration can be seen in the joining of forces of two Service Network members, Newcastle-based market research company Explain with Teesside brand agency Better, to launch Better Communities.

The partnership between Explain and Better has created a completely different way of capturing consumer insight. This new approach is a digital platform allowing brands to engage with their customers in a private social community, and over the long term discover customer insight that directly influences product and service design, marketing strategy and valuable feedback.

It has already attracted interest from a number of blue chip organisations across Europe in several sectors including retail, manufacturing and utilities, and negotiations with a handful of multinational companies continue to progress.

Explain’s Managing Director, David Shiel comments ‘it has been an exciting and intense nine months of development and collaboration, and were proud to be winning national clients and shouting about a product that has been designed, built and privately funded in the region.

David will be speaking at the Service Network event, alongside Mark Easby, Managing Director of Better, about their successful collaboration.  They will discuss why and how they went about collaborating, the challenges they faced and the benefits they derived from turning competition into collaboration.

Chair of Service Network, Neil Warwick says ‘Collaboration is more relevant today than ever before. In the tough economic climate, partnership is becoming an essential route for many businesses. We are so pleased that two of our Service Network members have come together so successfully and Better Communities is a prime example of the benefits of a creative and insightful collaboration.’

Don’t miss this truly collaborative event which could open up a whole new world of opportunity for your business.

For more information and to book places for the Service Network event, please visit Or contact the team on 0191 244 4031.

About Service Network:

Service Network is the only independent voice of the service sector in the North East of England.  It is a dynamic, action orientated organisation.  Service Network’s mission is to provide a stimulating environment for ambitious businesses, both large and small to learn, grow and prosper. Service Network is part of the Entrust Group of companies. Service Network is funded by Regional Development Agency, One North East.

About Entrust:

Entrust was established in 1982 to assist small businesses in the North East with advice, consultancy and financial support, with a view to improving growth, development and sustainability. Whether you are looking to start-up in business, have just started trading or are an established business, Entrust can provide you with the support you need to reach your objectives. Over the years Entrust has grown and developed in line with the increasing demand for business development and enterprise support in the North East of England, playing an important part in its economic regeneration. Today this assistance manifests itself in three key areas; Money, Markets and People.

About Solutions for Business:

Service Network is a Business Collaboration Network which is part of Solutions for Business, the Government’s package of publicly funded support offering help to companies to start, grow and succeed. Solutions for Business make it easier for businesses to get the advice and assistance that they need.

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