Collaboration: The Action Side of Conversation



Collaboration is the action-oriented manifestation of dialogue.

I had an online conversation with a colleague during which we each remarked on the current snapshot of busy-ness we have (summer can be notoriously slow, depending on your business…I think the ice cream parlors pick up, but I digress…) and some of the projects we’re working on. Then she offered to “hop on a call” and look at some ways we could collaborate. This caught me by happy surprise, as I’ve never met her face-to-face, since she lives a continent away.

Her suggestion immediately sent my imagination reeling in a kind of high, fuzzy way. By that I mean that I couldn’t think of what such a collaboration might look like immediately, but the chance to take part in it opens up unknown possibilities….which are always exciting! While the possibility may mean work for me that I might not have done otherwise (filling out my “bandwidth” for the week, for sure….) the value of that work would be at the top for me.

Collaboration, as I mentioned earlier, is conversation in action. The shared listening and thoughts, the enlightenment and discovery, the humor and evolution of opinion and points-of-view result in an end-point of sorts that could not have been gotten to any other way.

  • Do you do this in your business?

Don’t think in terms of “partnership“, as a partner may not be an actual collaborator. Think more in terms of working with someone to produce or create something…especially something that would not exist if either of you tried to come up with it individually. THERE’S the intriguing value! It might be a new way of looking at something, a way of doing something that you both benefit from, or even something else completely new. It might have aspects of any or all of these. Still, it goes beyond the power of a conversation, as such, looking for ways to bring about the end-point (or at least a way-point…) of the dialogue…to bring something into the world that previously only existed in thought.

In the digital world, it can be a challenge to make these kinds of connections, since they are founded on trust relationships, and those take time and effort to build and maintain. While collaboration certainly takes place face-to-face (one of the reasons a number of companies go to great pains to get their employees to interact and engagement with each other in the office…open office plans and meeting spaces…also the rise of co-working spaces, that provide the same opportunities for home-based businesses and free-lancers…), broadening the sphere of trust into the digital world can create entirely new possibilities.

  • OK, so how can you go about building these kinds of trust relationships digitally?
Well, get involved in online groups and Identify who the truly interesting and innovative folks are. Message them, follow them, engage in group conversations with them. Take the time to build trust. I can never express this enough, that this takes TIME! One of the many positive side effects of building a relationship over time is that when the chance for a real collaboration arises, it feels like part of the ongoing relationship, and not like an “ask”. It is natural and will also serve to grow the trust even further.

If you’re interested in more about building trust to grow your business, here are some great resources:


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