JUNE 1990

Thinking of entering a strategic alliance with a large corporation? Don't feel shy about asking for references -- no matter how big the company, advises Mike Allred, CEO and president of Visual Information Technologies Inc., a Dallas-based manufacturer of image processing systems.

Before entering a major strategic alliance with a TRW Inc. subsidiary, Allred asked for contacts at other small companies with which TRW had forged alliances. TRW was happy to comply, and Allred found the information useful. He believes asking for references actually helped him in his negotiating, since it showed he wasn't over-anxious to form an alliance. "Winners want to play with winners," Allred observes.