Collaborate With Care

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Ahhhhhh…social business! Connections are made, relationships developed and the idea to collaborate on promotions and projects sounds like a “sound” – I couldn’t resist the play on words – and savvy idea. It can be, but it can also be a hectic endeavor ending in headaches that might disconnect the parties involved if not handled properly. With that in mind, I thought a post dedicated to some of the best practices I’ve developed during my time spent collaborating might be in order. Especially with 2013 right around the corner with the potential for many new collaborations. It also seemed fitting because Steamfeed itself couldn’t work without collaboration!

Top Tips to Collaborate With Care:

  1. Someone has to take ownership of the collaboration. While it would be very nice to think that a collective group can make decisions, it tends to be problematic. Discussions can last for so long that actual action never gets taken. Someone has to be the final “next step” taker within the collaborative group. Someone has to ensure the process stays on track and you eventually take the steps to reach the end goal or purpose that made you collaborate in the first place.
  2. Deadlines are even more important within a group setting. When you miss a deadline and you’re the only person working on a project, it’s only an inconvenience for you – and possibly the single client who asked you to take on the project. When you’re working on a collaborative concern, that missed deadline inconveniences the entire group.
  3. Choose collaborators with care. Is everyone willing to do the work involved to make the collaboration a success. Will someone put a project for the group on the back burner when a project for their own company takes precedent? Do the collaborators know how much time/involvement is involved to make a success of the collaboration.
  4. Share expectations with your members. Once you set up the owner/boss that person has to share the plan, the course of action and any and all expectations with all collaborative parties. So far, I’ve yet to work with a mindreader and to expect your group to read your mind or understand your intent via osmosis is unrealistic and could set your collaborative effort on the road to disaster.
  5. Don’t let it take over and devalue your core business. While collaborative efforts can result in income for the group, they can’t and shouldn’t be entered into if it comes at the expense of your main business purpose and function. Your business overhead and expenses still remain. Make sure your main income pipeline doesn’t take a hit.
  6. Collaborate with intent. You must determine and strive toward actual goals. You must measure ROI and value. Unless the collaboration is for fun only, or a hobby group, there has to be a bottom line. What is the collaboration working toward. What is the intent, the purpose?

I have felt the pain and the pleasure of collective efforts. When they’re good, like the collaboration that is Steamfeed, they are oh so VERY good. But when they go bad, they can go bad with a vengeance and cause irreparable damage to friendships, reputations and your business. I hope you’ll keep my tips in mind as you undertake a collaboration with care and intent!

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Mallie Hart
After a long career as a graphic artist, web designer and ghost writer, Mallie found her true calling when personal social media embarked on the path leading to social business. While she still gets busy with graphics, most of her creative energy is now directed to unique social media content creation, curation and cultivation. Her dual love of graphic design and social media requires her to research, write about and promote a wide variety of topics while staying true to brand integrity. A research junkie - she majored in medieval history, Mallie enjoys the opportunity to find an interesting angle on just about any type of business or industry niche. When she’s not busy with The Media Barista, Mallie has been known to devour books (several per week), careen over rocks and roots on her bicycle and seek out the newest, edgiest music; all while drinking a lot of coffee.
Mallie Hart

@themediabarista

Caffeinated creativity and connections...building the best social media campaigns! When not here, I'm herding cats at @collectiveSS! #socialbiz
Have you noticed I don't post here anymore? Please come connect over at @moremallie. No automation - all off the cuff! - 5 months ago
Mallie Hart

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Comments

  1. b2brookeballard says:

    Such great tips! I think many people set out to do something, but end up as a "hobby" group because they don't set boundaries or any clear, defined goals/strategies. It's like a second job to be a part of a collaborative group if you're doing it right (IMHO)!

    • Mallie Hart says:

      We agree, Brooke. Even if you're setting up a hobby group, though, we think some level of understanding and some idea of expectation make the group experience much more beneficial for all.

  2. Randy Bowden says:

    Great guide Mallie, I like your order and detail. I find it often comes down to the driver, you know like project teams in college, many rode the coat tails of a few who made it happen! I have waited and waited on “needs” from collaborators. That usually means waiting on payment from an unhappy client.

  3. Great tips, Mallie! I agree with Randy that it does often come down to the driver, Delegating is an important key. Thanks for the great info!

  4. Some of these same tips would apply to participation in a mastermind group, too, Mallie. Awesome suggestions!

    When a collaboration of any kind goes "sour", it can leave a sour taste in your mouth for a very long time. Like you, I've had some REALLY wonderful experiences and a few that left me with major regrets. Sadly, a swift ending came to a couple of friendships. :( But live and learn, right?

    The whole time I was reading your post I was thinking back to when all four of my daughters were in Jr. High and High School. All those blinking group projects!! I wish the members of my daughters' groups would have had your list of collaboration tips in hand. You know how I'm going to finish this story, don't you? Each and every time — in every singe incidence — my daughters did all the work and the rest of the lazy bums got the credit. I used to hate seeing that scenario play itself out, over and over. :(

    Tip #3 is my favorite! "Choose collaborators with care"

    • Mallie Hart says:

      Sorry for being a little slow to respond, as this post has received a surge of new comments a bit "after the fact". It's funny you mention school projects. It can be that frustrating!

  5. You have really given the meat as to how to make a collaboration effort work. There is always a leader. That one point is critical to making it all work. Of course, picking your partners wisely in the beginning makes all the difference too :)

  6. Kerry Armour says:

    Excellent posting and really great tips. Being a new solopreneur I've been navigating these waters for the first time this year. Collaborating B2B as a biz owner is VERY different than working on a project within a corporate setting! Thanks for the great tips!

  7. Great post Mallie! Collaborations require a lot of research to find the right matches and a lot of work and that's why so many do not succeed! This post should be read by anyone thinking about collaborating with other businesses!

  8. Fantastic post, Mallie, and great tips! Anyone who is interested in a collaboration should print this post out and read it over and over. I also agree that a great leader is critical!

    • Mallie Hart says:

      Thanks for the comment and the share, Robin. All collaborative efforts take care and concern. Really appreciate you being part of mine!

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