We are continuing our HOW TO in July theme with a guest post from Jennifer Beale on the topic of collaboration. Jennifer is an avid collaborator who produces two of Toronto’s largest business networking events. Visit www.SummerNetworkingBash.com and find business networking events at www.biznetworknews.com, @JenniferBeale.
How to collaborate: the benefits of sharing resources
Collaborating is a great way for small business owners to save money and time while expanding your network and tackling problems.
You can share resources and knowledge, save money by buying as a group, and even work together for a common project.
It’s unbelievably powerful. And it does not take a lot of time. By sharing resources, you work faster, safer, simpler, and smarter, and ultimately save money and time.
You can collaborate in person, but you don’t have to. With today’s apps, phones and social media platforms, you can connect with great flexibility.
The recent growth in co-working space allows people to share ideas while sharing a common workspace. You pay by the hour, day or through a monthly membership. You stay mobile and you avoid working alone.
There are limitless ways to collaborate. Here’s four easy ways to get started:
- Swap special offers
- Share links and retweet on social media
- Connect people by making an introduction
- Create a referral network
- Interview people and share with your network
- Purchase to get bulk rates on products and advertising
- Join a co-working space
- Share products and services
- Co-host events
- Combine product launches
- Package products together
- Form a brainstorming group
- Get together to critique marketing materials
At first, the competitive nature of business seems to defy collaboration. We live in a predominately win-lose world. But with the right mindset, you and your associates can create mutual benefit.
Focus on how you can benefit one another rather than on what you can each get. Healthy relationships are based on reciprocity. View everyone as someone who can share an idea that can spark something creative in you. Listen and learn from others.
View collaborators as allies. Ask for help and listen to their advice and opinions. Try their ideas and let them know how it works.
Usually a collaboration starts with a common vision or felt need. Be genuinely curious about others and ask what you can do better together than alone. Invite people who have a common vision or challenge to join you.
Assess one another’s skills and delegate roles based on strengths not weaknesses
Establish a structured system for discussing ideas and actions to achieve goals. Decide when you will meet, for how long, and when you will end the collaboration.
Let everyone participate. People will participate differently. When you meet, provide equal time for attendees to level the playing field.
Build an environment of trust without judgment. Each person is responsible for aligning their expectations and agreements with one another. If group issues appear, address them immediately with full respect of people.
Where to find collaborators:
- Networking events
- Business and industry associations
- Co-working locations
- Interest groups
- Social media