How to collaborate when you work alone
One of the best bits of being a freelance trainer is working independently but there are times when it can be one of the worst bits too.
In my experience, most trainers are ‘people’ people – they love the interaction, bouncing ideas around, learning, sharing and talking. Being your own boss can get lonely fast.
I find the best way to combat this is to look for opportunities for collaboration. This gives the best of both worlds – independence with input from other professionals to refresh your perspective.
Where can you find opportunities to collaborate with other trainers? Here are some ideas:
Network, network, network
Networking – both in person and online – is a fantastic way to meet people from different walks of life and in different industries or who come from a similar background to you.
As well as meeting potential clients, networking is great for finding peers and potential collaborators.
Some networking groups only allow one or two people per job type to ensure that it isn’t too competitive to gain work from in-group referrals. This sort of group is ideal if you’re looking for a collaboration with someone who isn’t a trainer.
I set up Trainer Talk to create a networking group specifically for trainers. Many of the Trainer Talk members find peers to collaborate with from within the group.
Build your reputation & authority
If you can build your reputation and authority as a trainer, you may find that people approach you about collaborating.
Tactics to grow your reputation include:
- Blogging regularly about topics that matter to your clients
- Keeping your website up-to-date
- Featuring case studies on your website
- Being professional and active on social media
- Participating in on- and offline business forums and networks, such as Trainer Talk
- Entering your business for awards
- Sharing your professional achievements in your marketing
- Reaching out to influencers
I think one of the most important things is being seen as someone who is open to being approached.
Also, if you focus your values, what you’re passionate about within your business and your skills, you may find that people reach out to you because of the common ground you share.
Be visible on social media
When you work alone, there are times when it’s easy to feel invisible and a bit out of touch with the nine-to-five world of employment, even if your clients occupy that world.
One way to boost your visibility and reach out to potential collaborators is to be active and visible on social media, getting involved in conversations that are relevant to you as a trainer.
If you provide input and support as well as just expecting to receive it, you may find that people reach out to you about working together.
Buy local to connect with other businesses
Within your local community, there are lots of freelancers and small business owners who are going it alone too. By buying from local businesses, you can build relationships that tap into the network of business people right on to your doorstep.
Opportunities for collaboration can come from the most unexpected of places – someone who knows someone who can help.
Visit a co-working space
I was chatting to someone recently who said that, on days when he’s not delivering training at a client’s premises, he can only stand half a day in his own office before he feels like he needs to see other people. For this reason, he uses a co-working space several times a week. He was saying that this enables him to meet people running a huge variety of businesses and to tap into a network and collaborations that he had never considered before.
This can be a good option if you find yourself missing the office environment or you want the opportunity to meet other professionals outside of your current network.
Set up a collaboration pipeline
Are there people within your current network who have skills that complement but are different to your own skills? You could always ask other trainers in the Trainer Talk community for their recommendations.
One way that you can add value for your clients is to set up a collaboration pipeline within your network where you can refer clients to, or bring on board, professionals with a different skillset.
For example, perhaps you know someone who’s an online training guru. You could approach them about a collaboration where you bring the content specific to your industry but you turn it into an online programme for your client with your collaborator’s help.
Collaborations can help you increase the scope of the services you offer.
How do you feel about collaborating? If it’s something you do a lot of, where do you find your collaborators? If you haven’t collaborated with anyone since going freelance, is there anything, in particular, that is holding you back? I’d love to hear your thoughts.