No matter the size of your company, it is difficult to work alone and still succeed. As a start-up business or as an established freelance writer, we all have to work, consult and collaborate with others to complete projects. Who is in your network that can help you with the next assignment? Who is in the next cubicle or in the office down the hall with knowledge or skills to help you? What is it that you do best and how can you use your time to the best advantage?
A puzzling collaboration
I once conducted a face-to-face communication seminar for front line managers at a company with about 150 employees. We had three or four teams of managers at the session. We started out discussing the importance of teamwork and pride of accomplishment. Each team picked a name to help them boost team identity. I gave each team a bag full of jigsaw puzzle pieces and told them they had seven minutes to solve all the puzzles. What I did not tell them was that each puzzle had a couple of missing pieces and that the other teams the missing pieces. Unless they collaborated with the other teams, no one could complete a puzzle.
It was fascinating to watch how the exercise unfolded and to slowly see the light dawn. One team realized that they couldn’t solve the puzzle and started looking around the room. They would have to ask another team for help. ONLY by pooling all their resources were they able to solve all the puzzles. Perhaps it was a trite way to make a point. Throughout the day the message was reinforced. Communicate and collaborate for success. Eventually they recognized that in their everyday work as well, not just in this exercise, they needed to engage with others who had essential roles to play.
Collaborative partners supplement your expertise
In my own business providing writing services, my most profitable projects have been ones in which I collaborated with other professionals who complement my skill set. I am a writer and I don’t do page layout, unless the client wants the final product to look like my eighth grade art project. When design and page layout are needed I call a professional graphic designer to provide the quality product my client wants.
I am a writer of web content and I don’t do website design or development. When a client needs web design I call in a professional web site designer to do the job. Or, when web designers have clients that need web content written, they call me. It works both ways.
Collaborators learn from each other
Working on a common challenge with people who are willing and open to share ideas and solutions can be powerful and profitable. I have found that giving and receiving feedback helps me to identify ways to improve and change. It makes us all better at what we do.
Where can you add value to your client’s projects? When is it time to call in reinforcements to meet a deadline or to complete a task where your expertise is lacking? Can you set up a team of experts to enable you to submit proposals for bigger projects?
You’ll have an opportunity to hear about successful collaborations and learn about the depth of expertise in the membership of HPCA at our March 22 Bring and Brag Event.