Collaboration: Why and How to Do It in the Internet Age
Long ago, people used messenger pigeons to communicate across the seven seas and mountains. Parchments were placed carefully, sealed and sent off to battle weather and whatnot, in the hope that messages reached the other end.
Today, we communicate with a click.
From WhatsApp to Twitter to Slack, every thought and opinion can be relayed in a matter of seconds to any part of the world. This has brought the world closer than ever before. We can easily find and reconnect with the best friend from second grade who moved schools and gradually lost touch. It’s also pretty simple to order things from another country. However, what I personally love most about the power of the internet is the immense freedom it gives in terms of collaboration.
No more does geography restrict two minds from coming together to brew great things. The internet is the facilitator and catalyst in the equation, helping astounding discoveries to be made; aiding and abetting inventions, theories, products, and other hacks.
But how do we seek out a kindred soul to collaborate with? How do we join forces with people whose work resonates with us and interests us? It might feel awkward, and there’s definitely a fine line between being reaching out and trolling, but the internet can also be a very open and welcoming place for collaborations.
But how, exactly, do we find like-minded people in the first place?
The master of all professional networks, LinkedIn acts as a perfect playground to find our own kind of people. The fact that many profiles include a detailed list of interests, experience, career graph, etc., helps in this process. Simple search phrases can throw up a lot of profiles of people who share similar interests. Go for a Premium plan if you want to InMail people. Be bold and send a connection request. Don’t forget to add a genuine note to go with it. You’d be surprised how many people would gladly accept your request and connect.
Yet another way in which I have personally found resonance within the LinkedIn community is through its internal publication platform. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to share ideas with a wide net of people. Pen your thoughts into a well-crafted article and share it within relevant groups. I’ve found so many people reaching out to me this way and I am sure that you can, too!
This is quite the obvious way to find birds of a feather that flock together. Each social media platform has its own unique traits that will aid your process of collaboration.
For instance, Facebook has options to create groups and pages. These offer a great way to connect with folks who share your interests. I belong to a lot of groups that connect people who are into remote working and the location independent lifestyle. By being part of such groups, you can share experiences, tips and tools, connect meaningfully on projects/exchanges, and clinch relevant jobs.
Instagram is for the visually creative folk. Occasionally, photographers, travel bloggers, food bloggers, and so on, are approached by top brands to collaborate with them. Personally, I’ve used Instagram to:
- connect with people who love writing letters and exchanged postcards with them
- collaborate with a book subscription box and a health bar on awesome exchanges
- discover like-minded people who love travel
- share travel tips with the community
Twitter‘s hashtags are brilliant, helping you to hone in on topics quickly. Plus, the platform probably gives the greatest access to your idols, enabling you to connect easily with anyone. Well, J.K. Rowling “liked” something I wrote; so, no, I’m not kidding!
For the past two years, I’ve been very involved with a number of global Slack communities. For anyone who’s lived under a rock and isn’t aware of Slack, this is the right time to delve in and explore the possibilities.
Each Slack community — and there are about a thousand of them — is like a virtual club focused on a particular theme/topic. This is probably the easiest and most potent way of seeking out people who have experience in a particular area and are happy to discuss the subject and collaborate. For instance, #CreativeTribes is all about building our tribes and Buffer’s Slack community is about the product, social media, and so on.
If your collaboration is purely work-oriented, you may want to head over to freelance networks like UpWork and Freelancer. With a host of opportunities to bid for, you can choose to work with people who are already offering work you’re interested in.
Interestingly, the age-old concept of barter is being revived with websites like TimeRepublik which facilitates service exchanges between members. This helps you find talented people who can fulfill your requirements in return for a service that you can offer to them.
I have found that a little effort and a lot of sincerity can go a long way, even in impressing absolute strangers! Be upfront about your interest in working with the project/business and they’ll most likely respond positively. Remember, corporations spend a ton of money on “engaging” employees to be consistently involved in the company’s vision. So, a little enthusiasm displayed in an email or phone call is never a bad idea. While this is an option more suited for those that like to grab the bull by its horns, I think if you are passionate about something, you should keep aside fear and simply go for it.
Indeed, I wouldn’t be writing for the #CT blog had I not reached out to Sean and Katharine in this very way!
It’s never been easier to extend an arm across the web and create magic. With more apps and tools being invented by the minute, I’m pretty sure this list will only expand.
What’s your favorite way to collaborate on the internet? What are your fears and successes? We’d love to hear!