I was working on a paper the other day, and I invited a colleague of mine to be a co-author. She had some really good ideas and insights about the topic of the paper, and she added some things that I hadn’t thought about before. She made the paper better, and I appreciated her help. I want to work more with that colleague in the future.
Later that week, I was working on a different research project, and a fellow professor helped me out with the statistical analyses. We were trying to do some complex analyses, and I didn’t quite understand what we were doing. He walked me through what I needed to do, and checked over my work to make sure I did it correctly. It was a big help. I’m keeping him in mind if I ever have a stats question in the future.
The thing that was similar across these two scenarios is that both people offered something of value to me. Each of them helped me in my work, and brought something to the table that I couldn’t do on my own. The result was a productive collaboration, and also the desire on my part to work more with those individuals in the future.
I think this is a good principle to think about when you are engaging in a partnership or collaboration. It’s important to think about the value you bring to the table. What knowledge do you have that is unique to the group? What skill set do you have that is important to the current task? Sometimes this isn’t apparent right away, and it can take some work to figure it out. But it’s important to identify the niche you fill. What do you offer that is so valuable the project wouldn’t get done right if you were not there?
If you can identify what you offer that is valuable, and focus on offering value in every partnership or collaboration you engage in, you will always have work.
Discussion: Think about the current collaborations you are engaged in. What do you offer that is valuable? What specific knowledge or skills do you bring to the table? How can you highlight the value that you offer?