Written by Sarah Yoon

We have so much to give, why do we hold it back?

We have so much to give, why do we hold it back?

People balance us when we go a little crazy: encouraging us when we drag our feet, checking us when we rush into the blue, and critiquing us when our heads get swollen. After dealing with all of our manic behavior, hopefully they are still willing to collaborate.

Teamwork enables amazing opportunities, yet risks great hurt. Though I want to address potential cons and how to avoid them, let’s begin with some heartening pros:

Community and Friendship

Friendship is a key benefit of collaboration—having others to discuss and spend time with is an amazing blessing. You get to pursue your passions with shared excitement. It’s easy to come up with like-minded society during college, since you’re taking classes and involved in your major. But creating a friendly collaboration becomes more difficult when you’re out of that temporary society. Instead of floating about in an artistic bubble, creatives must connect to enrich their work.

Inspiration Sharing

Sayuri and her mother combine their skills
of drawing and calligraphy to create
beautifully expressive sumi-e.

Collaborators inspire you when your mental inkwell is dry. When I visited the Ashland Shakespeare Festival in 2010, I found that the most enjoyable plays were directed via democracy instead of domination. When directors listen to actors’ suggestions, performances become richer. Sharing inspiration is an important part of the creative process and it brings about the most amazing products. Ideas build off of each other, deepening themes and brightening visuals. Each person’s voice helps one raw idea grow into a full-fledged artistic endeavor. The wealth of opinions melds styles into a unique entity.

Skill melding and Personal Growth

Though you may boast one or two strengths, you still need others to supplement your weaknesses. Artists must foster many skills to survive, or collaborate with others. Instead of struggling to create a mediocre website design, partner with a designer. This connection will hopefully help you gather new skills in the meantime. Writers need artists, who need musicians, who need film crews, who need—well, you get the point. Other creatives make up for you weaknesses while you lend your strengths in return.

Mutual Promotion and Motivation

Avengers meet the Dr. Enough said.

Avengers meet the Doctor. Enough said.

When teams pool their skills, connections and platforms naturally enter the picture. Each teammate multiplies the market potential. As you seek to promote the project, you’re automatically promoting each individual. The economy of generosity both builds online SEO and promotes healthy relationships. It’s difficult to plod onward by yourself in an over-saturated market. But when you have others challenging you to do your best, you can’t help but try harder to reach your goals. And as they encourage you, you also encourage them. Friendly competition spurs all onward to do the best they can do.

These benefits are not to be missed. Collaboration is about generosity, because hiding skills, keeping poker faces, and refusing help are prominent ways to self-sabotage. Granted, any team-based project can be plagued by conflict. See part one of the collaboration series on Symbiotic Networking or keep reading with Part 3, where I discuss the cons of collaboration to help you placate conflict even before it arises.

I’d love to hear from you: What collaborative experiences have you had? Good, bad, meh—let’s hear it!


Illustrations were graciously provided by four talented artists: “Tiger Lily Sumi-e” by Sayuri Romei and KisaragiChiyo (http://sayurimvromei.deviantart.com, Sayuri.romei@gmail.com, and http://kisaragichiyo.deviantart.com), “Dr. Who” by Jordan R. (http://maidenofiron157.tumblr.comhttp://www.redbubble.com/people/maidenofiron157/portfolio, and http://maidenofiron157.deviantart.com), and “The Secret” by Gabriel Picolo (http://365-daysofdoodles.deviantart.com)