As with anything, ground rules can help when it comes to establishing friendships with competing companies. You want to make sure the arrangement is truly beneficial for all involved:

1. Talk about trends and tricks of the trade for consistent growth. Because you’re both in the same industry, you should be able to share knowledge and best practices. That’s probably the biggest benefit of working with your direct competition: You can contribute to the other’s growth.

We talk all the time with MuteSix about what we’re seeing in terms of ad performance and the market’s declines, increases and techniques. We also discuss how the market is performing and swap ideas for how to work within the framework of our clients’ values. There’s no down side here: What we do ultimately helps the whole market perform better.

2. Have each other’s backs. People will call and complain about your competition. They’ll want to go into all the negatives about the other company and try to pit you against it.

And that makes sense because, look, this is still a competition. If a particular client will be happier with you, his or her experience with a competitor will be worth a conversation.

But you know your friend does good work. So, feel free to say so to the client, and see whether the work is really the problem. Sometimes, people just aren’t happy, no matter what, and you have to know when a gripe is legitimate and when it’s not. Still, it’s worth touting your competitors — supporting and collaborating with them — especially if that action benefits both parties.

Sports drink company Amara, for example, sought to make its product even better (with the addition of new drink flavors and even nutritional ingredients), but to do that, Amara had to collaborate with other players in the industry. So the company saddled up with its competitor, CrossFit.

Accordingly, Amara now supplies the sports company with healthy drinks, which keeps CrossFit members from heading to the nearest convenience store and purchasing an unhealthy alternative. I’d call that a win-win.

The message? Boost each other up when you can; there are plenty of other competitors trying to tear you down.

3. Share and share alike. Here’s a secret many in business want to ignore: There’s plenty to go around. We actually don’t compete with MuteSix very often. Instead, we talk it out. We can usually discern which company would be a better fit for a client, and that ultimately saves both of us time and money.

Airlines have done this for years. Back in the ’90s, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Northwest Airlines started sharing routes and operating flights jointly. This allowed them to have fewer empty seats, more profits and happier customers — literally the definition of win-win.

Of course, you’re in this game to win. And sometimes that means direct competition. But often, it’s easier to win when you make friends and collaborate with another company, even if its business is technically “competing” against yours.