Guy Boersma talks about his experience of collaboration and the journey from connecting with someone to collaborating with them fully.

We all talk about collaboration so much these days and yet it’s not something that happens by itself. There’s a journey from meeting someone, often virtually, to working with them on a shared project, and at the heart of that journey is trust.

We need opportunities to show that we are trustworthy if we want someone to work with us, and informal conversations are as important as what we say and do in more formal settings.

Getting to know you
There are many stages of collaboration and before you get to full on project collaboration, where you’re sharing resources from one team or organisation or country to another, you need to get to know each other.

Networking activity that leads to more co-ordination and co-operation before full collaboration is really vital. Informal conversations, as much as set pieces and panel discussions, are absolutely crucial to this process.

Networking is really important because it’s all – and only – about people. It’s not about the tech; once the tech is out there, the issue is implementation, which means people, change management and behaviour change. For that to go well we need to have done the groundwork and built the connections that will eventually lead to collaboration.

Make time for trust
People need to trust each other before they work together. Of course trust comes from being credible, but it also comes from being reliable, having integrity and not being TOO arrogant or self-centred!

To be seen as trustworthy you need to show people who you are, that you deserve their trust and respect, and that you have something to offer to a joint endeavour.

So don’t overlook the value of networking and having those initial informal conversations – they are the first steps for you and potential partners on the journey towards formal collaboration in the future.

But don’t stop there! There’s plenty of research showing that teams who have a coffee or eat together are more productive… further proof that networking is essential and should be a routine part of our working day.