Last week, I introduced the idea of “connect-working” instead of networking.
Time for part 2: Your creative collective is a real-time reference guide to everything!
You have hit the networking lunch and after-5 drink circuit with authority. So you’ve made a few connections, some of which you get along with pretty well. Nicely done. But what comes next?
I never did like common networking because there is an ending point to it all. The “need” meets the “filler” of said need. Done. Kind of anti-climactic if you ask me.
No, I’d rather opt for an ongoing exercise. Now give that exercise a forum. A place, be that virtual or actual, where the currency shared and bartered is the process of thought, not simply the fulfillment of needs. Welcome to the Creative Collective.
It’s time to assemble your creative “crew.” That even closer inner circle within your network with whom you may have an even better vibe than most. Imagine that you put the most trusted, most active members of your network into a room with the only task being to add to any discussion by sharing what they know and think based on their knowledge-base and experience.
Not asking them to make a leap into places unknown. Simply giving them the forum to share ideas, opinions, knowledge and creative thought. It’s in this entire process that you will find a much more valuable and important function for your network. The fusion of the creative process and the information shared make for a powerful tool of reference for just about any situation from career advice to technical support.
Now note: Here’s where having a trusted circle of creatives in your network comes into play. The simple fact is that if someone in your immediate “crew” doesn’t have an answer or information for you, someone in their own personal crew might and that overlap of information and knowledge-base explodes into a vast well-spring of know-how and, even more importantly, an expanded resource of varying creative thought processes.
At this point the information, the ideas, the thought processes, even the creative vibe itself are all just waiting, begging to be shared. The framework for information-sharing is insane these days, even in average everyday living. From SMS, MMS, Internet, wi-fi and varying data connection options, passing a quick word or sharing a hot idea is simple.
As a matter of fact the opposite holds true: it actually takes more effort to avoid contact than it does to find a way to connect. And let’s not forget that good old-fashioned standbys like the meet-up and the phone call are still crazy effective. With these means of communication and connectivity you could ask any question and you stand a great chance of getting not just answers, but creative, innovative timely answers to just about any subject. Software shortcuts, ink behaviors on certain paper stocks, best companies for storage devices… hell, even the best way to marinate a steak. I’m willing to bet you get some creative feedback.
Now you may be wondering why you need a real-time, living reference guide? Well that’s a simple answer. Adaptability, trust and time. The very nature of dated materials is such that they become just that… dated. It’s history, the second after a date has been put to it. Any reference guide is on its way to being outdated the day after it is printed.
Secondly, we’re not talking the laws of physics here. The ability to adapt and find work-arounds and new methods often has roots in some kid breaking a rule or two and doing what feels more natural. If we break the laws of physics, we fly off into the void. Break a few design rules and you might have a new technique. That’s the kind of thought you want from people in your collective.
That’s not to say that the information contained within reference materials isn’t valid for some time to come but new answers, methods and processes are being figured out all the time. Lastly, it saves time to be able to call on someone who may already know and/or point you to a specific source for info rather than the time it would take to look it up from zero yourself.
But remember come to the party with some treats of your own. No one likes an info mooch!
Your creative collective — a diverse group of creative and professional individuals — can function as a living, breathing resource. From action-script, print techniques, or even the how to get eel sauce off of your custom sneakers, the answers you seek or the creative spark you desire could be resting well within your grasp. But that takes us back to the beginning and begs the same question we asked last time: How often (again) do you actually plug into your so-called network?
BTW: If you want more of Steve, check out his article this week on the Parse blog.