Stubborn is totally a lifestyle choice. If anyone tells you differently, they are probably stubborn and in denial themselves. As an individual that frequently denies help, stubbornly asserting that I can handle everything myself, accepting creative collaboration has never come easily for me. That being said, collaboration is the only reason I’ve been able to increase my client base, achieve goals (ahead of schedule), and expand my market. So in this blog post, I’ll be creating a step-by-step process that will lead you down the path of finding unsuspecting people hiding around you to collaborate with. But first, I’ll be explaining what an asset collaboration can be to you and your business. Why collaborate?
Take a moment and take a step back. Look at your business. What are the weak spots? Are you as far as you’d like to be in achieving your goals? Could you use some help in turning these weak spots around or achieving your goals? Every time I evaluate an objective view of my business, I find something that isn’t quite where I want it to be.
In the past, I’d pour hours into attempting to resolve issues myself. For a specific example, I’ve really struggled with PR and social media posts over the entirety of the time I’ve run my business. I used to spend so much time researching PR techniques. I’d always tell myself I’d do better to make a more consistent effort in posting or set unattainable follower goals for myself. Finally, I grew frustrated and started looking outside of myself after seeing no growth in my client base, despite my efforts. Someone I worked with casually suggested that I go with her to a young creative professionals group that meets once a month. This is where my business started to transform. I encountered other creative minds that struggled with the same thing in the past and overcame it! I was inspired by their ideas and some offered to tutor me directly. The amount of marketing techniques I learned were incredibly useful and I still apply many today.
This is just my own specific example, but countless others have met lifelong business associates through reaching out and networking then collaborating with other creative business owners in an effort to improve their own business. We as individuals should strive to lift each other up and collaborate because we can all benefit from an outside perspective that could, long term, change our professional or even personal lives for the better.
Step-by-step guide to collaboration:
Now some of these ideals might come naturally to individuals, but if you aren’t used to networking or working with others, they may not. I broke the down the idea of looking outside of yourself to collaborate with others into steps that will surely help you reach out to others and connect with someone great.
Step 1: Look in your workspace
A lot of creative individuals have a place they like to work outside their home. Whether your place is an office space, studio space, or a collective creative space, odds are there is someone nearby where you work. If you haven’t heard of or visited a co-working space before, I highly recommend checking one out. These spaces provide an inexpensive, clean, large office to work in as well as other innovators to interact with. While this creative common working space is a relatively new trend in the working world, it could provide you with the chance to interact with others on a similar path that might be interested in working with you!
Step 2: Look everywhere
This step can be tricky, but it pays off more than you could ever imagine. Every time I meet some new person out and about or through a friend, I try to get their business card and explain what I do. Never attempting to sell anything, I treat each new person I meet as a potential business contact or client. By genuinely trying to learn about new acquaintances and creating a friendly rapport, you open up the opportunity to mold the relationship in any way you so choose. If you create a very engaging dialogue with any person, be sure to get their contact information because you never know when you might use it! Additionally, don’t be afraid to look for creative networking events near you! This one is a sure way to meet new contacts.
Step 3: Never discredit anyone
It might be easy to dismiss a barista as a contact at first. However, you never know when someone might be in need of your services or could abstractly help you. Perhaps you need coffee for your set designer stat. Barista Kate will ensure you get it fast. Then she will check out your card and notice you’re a web designer as well. She just created a series of paintings she would love to sell online. See where I’m going with this? I’ve met some of my best clients in the most unlikely of situations because I truly attempt to keep an open mind about all contacts I make.
Step 4: Follow up
Just like any other interaction, no matter how much of an impression you leave on someone, it is possible that they will forget it. To keep yourself, your business, and potential working connection fresh on others minds, be sure to follow up with people after you meet them. Shooting them a friendly email or text is smart so you and your business are on their brain. If they aren’t in need of your services, you never know if someone they know is. As any small business owner knows, there is no greater help to growth than referrals.
Step 5: Collaborate
Remember Peggy the photographer? Can’t she do your head shots for your new site? How about Johnny the web designer? Can’t he help you work out glitches in site software? This step is totally open to what you need and the people you happen to connect with.
By building your network and creating opportunities for collaboration, there is no limit to what you can accomplish with new contacts. Even a stubborn person like myself can see how creating contacts then collaborating on projects can save time, generate business, and improve your professional life!
We have a free worksheet that you can use when starting to collaborate. It includes a step by step evaluation of the ideas mentioned in the blog post.