Collaboration 101 | Choosing Partners

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I completely got off on this series with travel but I want to be giving more business tips from my experiences in the next stages of The Fresh Exchange so I am going to pick up where we left off…okay? If you didn’t catch the first one go ahead and catch up and come back!

Now that you know why you should be collaborating, let’s make it happen. One of the big things of making a collaboration happen is finding the person to partner with in your collaboration. You cannot actually collaborate without someone else or a few people right?

The truth is that a successful collaboration is all held in who you partner with. It is not about finding someone who is the most popular or the most talented. Though those things are great bonuses, they are not where you should begin your process of searching. Here are the top 5 things I look for when beginning my search for my partner in crime.

1. Trust One Another: This is the biggest and largest part of a good partnership with someone. When thinking of entering a collaboration or beginning a business realize it is very similar to marriage. There has to be a trust between those involved that you probably have with very people in your life. These people will know more about you than some of your friends since many times you will have to talk about money, personal situations you may normally not share, and other rather closely guarded topics in your life. These are what I call husband-level-topics. So you need to know you can trust this person more than you would just any friend you may have. This is someone you need to be able to know can make a decision and you not second-guess it naturally. Trust is the binding factor in a collaboration.

2. Have Respect: You need to feel a mutual respect for each other’s talents. Look at each other’s Pinterest boards, past work, blogs, or whatever else. Be honest with yourself if you respect that person’s work. Does it mesh with your brand as well? If someone within the team does not feel respected for what they are bringing it will begin to create a divide within the team. So make sure everyone knows there is a mutual and even respect. Make this aware through communicating to one another what you love of one another’s work or complimenting an idea. Respect is nothing if it is not known.

3. Choose a Communicator: When you all trust and respect each other communication is the next big thing. You want to work with individuals who not only communicate efficiently, but also well. If communication is not happening, nothing is happening. So work with someone who expresses ideas and feelings well and openly. When everyone in the team feels heard big things can happen.

4. Find Passion: Once the first three are checked off on the list you want to check the level of passion there is. If you see someone who works toward a goal, pushing and looking to learn and change this is someone you want to work with. I always want to gauge someone’s level of passion since I am crazy passionate about what I do and making things successful. No one wants to work with someone who just does what they have to, you want to work with people who go above and beyond especially if you know you are that same way.

5. Do Different Things: It is important to look for individual who do something different then you. Some collaborations could call for you to do the same things, but even in that situation there will be strengths of each of you and weaknesses as well. Knowing and understanding those are important and then having mutual respect as well as an initial definition of who does what within the collaboration. Personally as a designer I want to work with someone who does something really well that I don’t do well. In my partnership with Blog Brunch we each do certain things really well. I handle brand and design, Katie handles our web and content, and Amy handles our PR and Outreach. This was clearly defined early on so each of us knew what we were supposed to do.

It may seem like a lot and maybe over analyzed, but I know from experience it is important to take time to get to know each other, communicate, and be honest when choosing a partner. Just because you cannot be partners does not mean you cannot be friends. I have many friends that I would never be partners with and partners I probably wouldn’t be friends with if we hadn’t decided to collaborate. Realize that though a collaboration is an opportunity push yourself creatively and it is really fun it also still business.

Work with people you admire, you can straight shoot with, and that challenge you. Know you will have some of the toughest and most confrontational talks with these people than anyone else in your life most likely, well that aren’t family haha…so choosing a partner or partners should not be taken lightly whatsoever.

As always I would love to hear any other tips from your all’s experiences on this topic. I know many people have their own thoughts on this topic so feel free to drop them in the comments for others to read.

More next Wednesday my friends!



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