The 3 Stages of a Trading Partner Relationship

Before we explore the three stages of a trading partner relationship, let’s address the question of what a trading partner really is.

The definition of a trading partner is a business associate in whom you have placed your compete trust and confidence. You don’t hesitate to openly share your client information with your trading partner. You know they will honor the relationship that the two of you have developed.

You and your trading partner should develop a strong mutual respect that you won’t jeopardize for any reason. You won’t waste your trading partner’s time with anything less than 100% “place-able candidates” and “workable assignments.”

Your trading partner tries hard to screen in your candidate as a viable candidate rather than arbitrarily screening out your candidate over a minor point. If you altogether “miss the mark” when responding to your trading partner’s assignment, they will call and educate you on what they’re really seeking.

That being said, there are three stages of a trading partner relationship. Those stages are listed and outlined below:

#1—Outer Circle Trading Partners

These are ALL of the recruiters in Top Echelon’s split fee recruiting network who have access to your Network candidates and job orders, and vice-versa. They are good people like you, but many operate in different markets and have their own ideas about how things should be done. Most do not know your specialty areas, and you do not know theirs.

In a normal economy and depending upon your activity level, you will probably make approximately one or two splits per year with trading partners from this large sphere of recruiters. Many times, these placements occur due to good luck, because somebody happened to be in the right place at the right time.

#2—Inner Circle Trading Partners

These are those 20 to 35 recruiters with whom you have some things in common and with whom you talk on the phone at least once a month. You understand the areas they work, but you do not have enough in common with them to be on the phone every day.

In a normal economy, you should expect to split between one and three placements per year with them. Although you try to complete splits with your Inner Circle Trading Partners, you will not necessarily be able to complete a split with them. That’s fine, since next year you might be able to do so.

#3—Core Group Trading Partners

These are the six to 10 recruiters with whom you have a great deal in common. You are constantly communicating with each other about the assignments that you’re working on.

In a good economy, you should work to complete one placement every three or four months with each recruiter in your core group. You and your trading partners recognize that you both must be willing to help each other make placements by following a “give-and-take” philosophy. Sometimes you will place their candidates, and sometimes they will place yours.

A one-sided relationship is NOT healthy for the long term. You must be willing to go out of your way to make sure that you and your core group of trading partners are regularly making split placements together.

Over time, you will find that your core group relationships are more valuable to you than most of your client relationships because of the reliability of repeat placements!

I invite you to download a copy of “Planning Your Network Success: A Guide to Growth Within Top Echelon Network.

You can contact me by calling 330.455.1433, x156 or by sending an email to

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