Today’s world of work is filled with uncertainty. There are always unexpected pitfalls, new things to learn, and challenging opportunities — and that means the possibility of facing disruption is something we all need to be prepared for. Maximizing both your personal and professional collaboration networks can help you build a strategy for dealing with the unexpected.
My phone rang.
“Hey Pam, this is Susan. My husband just lost his job today, and we are freaking out. What should we do?”
I could hear the panic in her voice, a natural reaction when something happens that affects your ability to take care of yourself and your family. But I have answered calls with the opposite situation, and similar panic.
“Hey Pam, this is John. Remember that big contract I was bidding on? I got it! I am totally freaking out, what should I do?”
Disruption comes in many forms — what you need to have is a solid network of friends, family, and colleagues.
Who You Need in Your Network
I recommend that everyone have the following people in their network (in addition to your beloved spouse/ kids/ pets/ etc.):
- 2 people you can text at any time day or night
- 2 mentors you can call when you have great challenges or opportunities
- A smart, challenging friend who will pick apart your ideas without crushing your confidence
- A best friend you can whine to, or celebrate with
- A strong, clear-thinking analytical friend who can help you solve complex problems
- A pocket full of creative thinkers who don’t mind being pinged on the phone or Skype
Learning how to identify, engage and build trust with great collaborators is a required skill in the new world of work. So how do you identify them?
8 Questions to Help You Find Great Collaborators
When faced with a work challenge, ask yourself these questions:
- Who has done this, or something similar to this, and done it well?
- Of all the people I find who have done this well, which of them share my values, work ethic and life goals?
- What were the key moves these people made in order to have success?
- Who are the deep experts, enthusiasts and influential people in this area?
- Where do they hang out, so I can go meet them?
- What criteria do decision-makers use to select products or projects? (This is most relevant for things like book deals, television shows, getting venture capital, or being chosen for guest posts on popular blogs)
- How can I apply this learning to my own business planning?
- What are my key moves in the next month, next quarter, and next year to get me to my goal as quickly as possible?
The more that you develop your network, the more ease you will feel when starting new or challenging projects. My advice in both of the scenarios above was basically the same: gather a council of peer collaborators to help you think through and plan your responses; that way, you can be confident that you’re ready for all of life’s challenges, whether they happen on the job or at home.
Pamela Slim is an author and business coach who specializes in navigating the new world of work. Her first book, Escape from Cubicle Nation, won Best Small Business Book of 2009 from 800 CEO Read. Her new book, Body of Work, comes out on December 31. Find Pam at escapefromcubiclenation.com