Making the Most of Collaboration
By Alison Coward
When you’re working hard to sell your own work and products, it’s easy to forget how valuable collaboration can be in opening up new opportunities and pushing your practice forward. We all use the word, and know that it’s common amongst creative businesses. But are we really doing it, and are we doing it well?
As well as the creative energy and new ideas that can be generated when working with others, collaboration can help you to:
- Work on larger projects outside your usual capacity
- Save money and time by sharing resources
- Develop knowledge and experience in new areas
- Add something new and interesting to your portfolio
Although new technology and social media has made ‘collaboration’ a bit of a buzz word, these tools really are making it easier for us to build a profile, attract and find collaborators and work with others across the usual barriers of time and location. For example, you can use Twitter to find and make new contacts and Google Docs to brainstorm and develop ideas online.
Aside from the technology, in practice, collaborations can be difficult to manage, with different personalities coming together. There are some things you can put in place to make the most of collaborations, so that you can focus more on high-quality creative output:
- Develop an agreement at the start of the collaboration, particularly outlining ownership of intellectual property
- Know what you personally want to achieve from the collaboration, be upfront about this, and ensure that others are too
- Outline the collective aims and objectives of the project from the outset so everyone knows what direction you’re heading in
- Think about the deadlines and key dates throughout the project – when do things need to get done and who is doing what?
- Keep discussions open and set up good methods of communication. (Not e-mail! There are plenty of online tools that are good for this, such as Skype for having online meetings if you can’t meet face-to-face, and Google Sites which enables you set up an online project area to keep everything in one place)
About the Author
Alison Coward is the founder of Bracket, a company that helps creative freelancers and businesses collaborate more effectively through the use of online tools. In 2010, she co-founded RewireLondon, an initiative to encourage creative businesses to think about how to develop their practices in the digital era.
Images by Emily Wilkinson
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