(Seth Godin wrote a post today on his blog that inspired this post.)
I work in an industry where professionals often behave like grade school kids taking a test – with one arm covering their answers so no one can cheat off them. The graphic design industry is a lot like that. Nearly everyone is so protective because of fear of having clients stolen that you rarely have a totally open conversation with another designer about the real amount of business they have, who their clients are, or their secret sauce. Suggesting a work alliance is usually met with an uncomfortable, ‘Uuuuuh, why should I do that?’ …As if asking a stranger to marry you.
Ever heard of a species of one?
We all like to think we are unique, and if you want to excel in business, you really have to be in some valuable way. While there are times to keep your guard up, you don’t have be an island. In fact, if you open up and form alliances, a world of possibilities will open up to you.
One of my great alliances today is with another design firm. I’ll admit that when the firm’s owner called me one day out of the blue, my industry standard skepticism was just waiting to hear what he was really after. Lucky for me, my own instincts kicked in, and I found a like-minded spirit I could trust and believe in. I can pour myself into work for his firm as much as for my own.
If you keep an open mind and, importantly, an open heart, you’ll find partners you can work together with to achieve greater goals for you both.