Last month, when Fredrik and I advertised in our respective blogs for freelance writers to join us in a communication project we're jointly working on, we were taking the next steps in a Big Experiment we'd started.
This Big Experiment is to do with collaborative working and the role of blogs, and what that means for new trust relationships and new ways of working.
Just over three months ago, Fredrik and I started working together for a new client that Fredrik had secured, the European Science Foundation based in Strasbourg, France. As many of you know, Fredrik's in Sweden and I'm here in The Netherlands. We're both bloggers and both independent business communicators. We actually 'met' each other in our blogs around September last year. We built up a relationship of common interests surrounding PR and corporate blogs and enjoyed reading what each other was posting about.
Yet even though we'd not ever physically met - which we finally did for the first time in April at Les Blogs in Paris - we started working together for this client. We actually first discussed working together (over a Skype telephone call) a few months earlier. More conversations in the following months leading to getting started once the client was ready to start.
Another interesting thing, too - we started even though, at that time, I'd not physically met the client either.
This is the new trust - the willingness of people to forge working relationships with other people where making the decision to do that is based on criteria other than physically meeting and getting to know each other first and doing the things you traditionally do when thinking about whether or not to get together with someone professionally.
Blogs played an instrumental role in that decision process. As I mentioned earlier, Fredrik and I had got to know each other through our blogs, and got a clear sense of what each of us was about and how we thought. That made it easier to make the jump - the leap of faith, if you will - to a clear commitment to work together where each of us could pool our skills and experience to achieving something we could do far more effectively as a team and so work together for the benefit of this client.
We put the same thinking into action with the next steps in our Big Experiment - finding those freelance writers. And we found them, three writers who now comprise the core writing team for the immediate needs in this communication project (which, incidentally is all about traditional communication and not about new-media communication). We did this wholly via our blogs. The writers - Tris Hussey in Canada, Stuart Mudie in Paris and Drew Benvie in the UK - are also bloggers. Fredrik and I read their blogs (well, their RSS feeds) so when they responded to our call, we already 'knew' them because we read what they write about. So we had a head start on building trust and new relationships.
One other great example I can mention is the relationship Guillaume, Elizabeth, Christophe and I have with our Blogging Planet venture which we started in March. Our blogs were the catalyst for our first getting together last December. Then there's the For Immediate Release podcast that Shel and I have co-presented since January. While Shel and I have known each other for over ten years, both our blogs played a key role in our deciding to get together and do a podcast.
Some people have asked me in recent months if I make money from my blog. I understand the question but I doubt whether those who ask it do. They're thinking in traditional terms, a bit like asking if your e-commerce (now isn't that a quaint word?) website makes money. My short answer is, no I don't, not in the sense they mean. I also answer that what I create with the help of my blog is value in the relationships I build that may lead to business and, hence, revenue.
What I've outlined here is, I firmly believe, just the tip of the iceberg for how more people will create and build new relationships and do business together in the future, wherever in the world you happen to be. While it can be easier for independents and small businesses where decision-making processes are simpler and faster, it is equally valid for large corporations. This is much more than purely the power of the network.
All it really requires is looking at trust in a new way. And that changes everything.
- Related: Fredrik's post - Blogging works: A personal success story