How to Collaborate Effectively

Posted October 1, 2012 by Marcy Farrey in Networking Buzz

At some point in our careers, we will have to — and want to — collaborate with others. Whether you’re working on a personal project or developing a project for your business, bringing on someone new can be exciting. Even networking with someone is a form of collaboration: you’re agreeing to enter into what is, hopefully, a mutually beneficial relationship.

But when it comes time to choose who to collaborate and network with, how do you decide on the right person, project, or company? Sometimes it seems like a good idea to team up, but it can turn out to be a poor fit — just like in any relationship.

Jules Taggart and Krystina Feucht of Kickstart Kitchen came up with a list of questions you should ask before deciding to collaborate. Here’s two that I think can help you in any collaborative effort:

  • Does this person/project fit with your goals? If you’re looking to collaborate in business, you have to make sure that this new project fits with your company’s goals. If there is any discrepancy, you could face some problems down the line, when it will be difficult to change plans. Taggart and Feucht suggest collaborating with someone who is an expert in a field that you do not know as well. This is a great idea for when you’re networking, too — the more people you know in different fields, the wider your resources become. You never know when you might need their skills, and when they might need your’s.
  • Does their voice match your’s? Taggart and Feucht say that they like to collaborate with individuals/companies who speak in the same voice. I love this because it is such a literary term — and an important one. Your personal voice could be edgy, sarcastic, playful, or formal. For Taggart and Feucht, it is professional but fun, so that’s what they look for in a collaborator. When it comes to networking, I’ve had an experience with mismatched voices — and it can become painful. You suddenly find yourself in a very one-sided relationship. So, now I know that if someone approaches me aggressively (calls me constantly to ask for contacts and to pitch their product), I should steer clear. I want someone genuine, who wants to really share, and who can respect boundaries. So ask yourself, does this person’s voice match and mesh well with mine?

Check out more collaboration tips on Kickstart Kitchen by clicking here, and remember that it’s all about staying true to your mission and goals. Don’t just collaborate for the sake of collaborating, and don’t just network for the sake of networking. Find mutually beneficial relationships that are deserving of your time, and the time of your collaborator.



About the Author

Marcy Farrey

Marcy Farrey is a videographer, writer, and editor. In her previous life, she worked as a broadcast news reporter and producer in Lincoln, Nebraska and as a writer and producer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has a Master of Arts in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University. Learn more about Marcy on her website

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