There have been a great many references comparing sales professionals to sharks. Sharks are fearless, swift, determined, efficient and always on the move. I doubt there are many businesses that wouldn’t benefit greatly from the boost in revenue from a sales shark. Along with great strengths come equal weaknesses. Sharks (in water and business) tend to be lone hunters who rely on their highly refined instincts that are tuned to feed only themselves. They have no parental instincts.

It seems that even the depths of the oceans can provide us with great insight into business. Being highly specialized hunters, sharks do keep some interesting companions – namely Pilot fish and Remora. Pilots are the striped ones that often surround sharks, while the remora, being more bold, actually attach themselves to the skin of their host. Some even feed in the mouth of this feared predator!

Yet the sharks pay no attention to the potential meals that follow them and actually benefit from them. Keeping proximity to the highly specialized sharks provides the fish an environment free from other predators. In exchange, the fish trade their highly specialized traits to the shark and keep their host free from bacteria, parasites, and a variety of tiny ocean creatures that could cause serious harm.

Seeing these symbiotic relationships happen naturally, under water, between different species not likely to share a common language, makes me think that we can do the same in each of our businesses. This goes beyond traditional networking and evolves into a more strategic relationship… or even a partnership. Though it is possible for each business to survive on its own, having the relationship actually increases the success of both.

Can you build this sort of relationship with another division of your company? Or can you think of another business that could benefit from your particularly specialized skills?