It’s hard to fathom a business that won’t at least occasionally work with other businesses. It’s an inevitable, sometimes stressful part of professional life. As mutually beneficial as collaboration can be, we often make it harder for each other than it has to be. I doubt it’s purposeful (most of the time), but thinking ahead will help sidestep a lot of future headaches. Let’s look at a few things to remember when collaborating with other companies (and people in general).
No one likes feeling ignored, so be aware if someone is waiting on you. Respond to any questions/contacts as quickly as reasonably possible. However, if you’re the one waiting for a response, understand if they don’t respond immediately. Consider the other side’s workload and time constraints. Give them a bit of time to answer before gently reminding that you’re needing a response (never nag). If both parties try to keep communication open and consistent, a lot of delays can be avoided.
When collaborating, one of the biggest budget-demolishing expenses is a late-stage change. For example, if you’re making a video, and on the last review decide to change a section, it’s not a simple update: the script must be rewritten, the voice-over re-recorded, music replaced, and any new characters or designs need to be created. This gets very expensive (not to mention all the added stress). Better to make sure that any major changes are caught and agreed upon early. There will always be tweaks/improvements throughout a project, but the earlier they can implemented (and smaller they are), the less of a headache (and expense) they will be.
After a joint project is completed, how you talk about the other company is important. If you had a positive experience, say so! Thank them publicly on social media. Give them kudos. Sharing this kind of goodwill looks not just for them, but also for you. However, if it was a negative experience, fall back on the old cliché: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. No matter how awful, don’t go bashing them online or complain at industry functions. Even if you’re 100% correct in your assessment, to others you’ll look like a negative whiner who talks bad about people behind their backs. That’s not a good image for you, and especially not for your business. People notice when you carry yourself with dignity and professionalism!
As it usually is, the key here is empathy. Consider the other person, what their needs and wants are. Respect them as hardworking partners, not as underlings to boss around. This shared sense of humanity will help color your interactions to make them as pleasant as possible for all involved, and help the collaborative process be a smooth, enjoyable, and profitable experience.