10 Elements of Cyber Collaboration

tool theme for publishingpioneer
Riding the wave of change, being a communication professional has moved to a virtual business. It makes so much sense. The end-product of my creativity is always a tangible but the delivery is cyber. E-publishing has overtaken traditional—one of the industries transformed by convergences. Its creation works best when also the product of cyber collaboration because no one person can both know and be good at every technology needed to run today’s communications.Adapting to new rules of positioning, presentation, and ways of working, we have to be good at reaching through the keyboard. Messages are more succinct, need an entertainment component, must inspire discussion, and engage participation. Building idea-based communities of interest is international.New rules of finding complementary talents taps vaster resources as well as vaster audiences. Shared interests motivate people over geographic location—the cross-cultural interchanges are enriching.I spend more time blogging and participating in online discussion than I do in activities with my friends, which is an unfortunate reality of communications. Sometimes I seen closer to people farther away than those close by! Yet, on the otherhand, interacting with viewpoints all over the world is way too compelling. Discussing issues, viewpoints, cultures, histories, businesses, and selling to them—the community in Second Life demonstrates the potential of cyber reality to form a hybrid culture of education and exchange. The fantasy-quality is secondary to the psychological study of self and others! Blending also with the social media platforms, networking takes on a much wider reach. Distinctions between local, national, and international become part of the pursuit.Every business has to be obsessed with interactive communications. As a content-developer, I see opportunities almost daily for writers, editors, social media managers, cross-media developers, etc. Every business needs these functions whereas twenty years ago, all this was handled by a business card handed out at the right business events. Some companies had newsletters. Now, having a website, blog, FaceBook page, LinkedIn page, Twitter, online features, presentations, and events, are expected. Cross-platform messages are modular; consistency sought.New cyber collaboration rules include:The cyber environment relies greatly on written clarity. Directness matters more when cultural nuances blur interpretations. Collaboration means spending a lot of time together, but it doesn’t mean having to do so physically. It does emphasize:

tools of the trade 1. Great organization and focus. Having a clear message to convey to an audience, strategic goals defined, and modular outline still require pencil-and-paper thinking. Brevity becomes more critical. Branding requires simplification and boldness. And it must capture the interest of readers by providing tools or rewards, something of value. The expectations of receiving something extra is very high. Promises only with payment get passed by. There has to be a vehicle that gives the reader enough to want more. Attention spans are shorter.

tools of the trade2. Command of tools. Integrity of media requires using each platform for what it does best. Usually a team approach is best because no one single person can have enough time to learn all the communication tools, master development software, carry out projects, and keep up with all social media. Businesses build by blending professionals great in complementary areas. Teaching each other optimal tools is part of the collaboration as well. Bringing everyone into efficiency means compatibility and meshing the individual communication styles.

tools of the trade 3. Communication system formed. Each contributor has a different strength in communicating. Mine is e-mail. Terrorized by phone batteries, bad reception, and lengthy voice mail messages, I stay away from the phone!  Plus I like how e-mail has a record. Yet I have clients who’s preferred mode of working together is chatting on the phone. Skype is a better alternative but requires more attentiveness.

tools of the trade 4. Multiple processing. Communications online is multi-teared with e-mail accounts, registration pages, instant messaging, discussions, responses, reviews, and inquiries, everyone is talking to everyone. It is a cacophony of sound. Filtering through and keeping current with the flow is a daily on-screen examination.

tools of the trade 5. Staying current. It is impossible. So acceptance of that nasty fact makes coping with it easier. It is a world of being productive in activity more than completing a Things to Do List. If ever there were application for do First Things First (Covey), it is now. That means things will go undone and that is the reality of it. Part of the editing process, there will be difficulties passing up opportunities or not following up fast enough.

tools of the trade  6. Promote one message. Such a commitment is very risky because it is staking a flag on a hill. If the single message is compelling, it can be supported with more services or products. But there must be a spear-head. Selling to all people doesn’t work. The niche marketing of targeted messages take s new analytical and modular thinking. Being flexible and scaling a common message to specific audiences is a practiced skill.

tools of the trade 7. Defined process. Working online means that each contributor know exactly what the others are doing. Duplication of efforts is a waste that easily happens. So breaking down large projects into components is the only way to clarify. Checkpoints need to be built into the process. Communication skills ignite with a sense of appropriateness. How much reporting is necessary? What are the expectations of decision makers? Keeping team members informed of progress, project changes, and when help is needed are all part of the process.

tools of the trade  8. Feeding the feedback loop. Working remotely uses the cyber interactivity to be even more connected. Media is power in the hands of the imaginative. So building a cyber audience uses skills from collaborating. Marketing is marketing and getting their feedback is faster via new tools. Having customer feedback help to design the product or service that they need is a base for many new companies. Manufacturing can be personalized.

tools of the trade9. Filling out profiles and forms. Keeping suites of information current means always operating in toe shoes! Having a system that everyone understands uses the talents of a great project manager. Modular information design can establish a production system. Yet any system that can be sustained must be flexible. Online tools means keeping components up to date, assigning components to monitor, and not allowing any media to fall out of date are all challenges that create ongoing projects in themselves.

tools of the trade 10. Learn and adapt fast. The audience attention changes faster than the technology. It is better to do the right things fast and rough than later and polished. People will forgive typos or lag, but they will not forgive weak ideas or unfocused presentations. There are even jokes in messaging about reading “typonese.” It is not that accuracy does not matter; but accuracy cannot matter over sustainability.

Cyber collaboration is in evolution. I learn from every professional that I interact with. The form of interaction is not as important as the visibility it raises, the potential of influencing how each other thinks, and the business community lessons learned.

Liane Sebastian, illustrator, designer, writer, and publishing pioneer

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