Problem: You’re not quite sure how to do something. You don’t know the right person to call about an issue. You need a tool or device that you cannot locate. What to do? In many cases, a competitor can and will offer help.
Let’s say your problem has to do with getting a software program to perform a certain function. The online guide is confusing and your call to offshore tech support does not resolve things. You remember that a competitor uses the software. Call him for assistance. His helping you will not cost him business and may even lead to a future alliance.
Trade associations are generally made up of competitors who unite for a common interest. Conventions often bring competitors together to share ideas in panel discussions and over beers in the bar. Proprietary information is not shared, but useful suggestions are passed along.
Competition is wonderful. It makes America great. We all strive to get a bigger piece of the pie. If I share a media contact name with another person who is seeking coverage, my slice of the pie is not reduced. If another PR person gives me her ideas on obtaining a particular desired result for a client, the only cost to her is her time.
Some competitors will not want to share advice or materials and that’s okay. Keep asking. Someone who has been in a situation similar to yours will be happy to help.