I get my inspiration from some pretty unusual places, and this week is no exception. I am reading a book about the Iowa Writers Workshop because some of my favorite authors went there, and so I thought it would be an interesting read. One of the first ideas that I gleaned from it is that of COMMUNITY.
At The University of Iowa there is an incredibly competitive program for writers, poets and playwrights. Nearly impossible to get into, that’s when the competition really heats up. Once in the program, the students compete to get published, to get their stuff reviewed by agents, and even to get invited to prestigious parties and gatherings.
What does this have to do with printing, you ask? Well, we printers are in a kind of community, too. And we can view each other as mortal enemies, or we can decide to “join forces” in a manner of speaking, and decide that when one of us thrives, the industry wins. Call it co-opition, or keeping your enemies close...or whatever else you want to call it.
Here’s my point. There is a good chance that we have a lot to learn from each other. This was made particularly clear to me last week at GRAPH EXPO 2011 when Bill and I talked to a group of owners, executives and salespeople about how to motivate salespeople to embrace selling digital. Some people in the room were very willing to share information—even some things that you might consider “secrets”. Others were open about their vulnerability and asked questions ranging from how many vertical markets to focus on, to the oh-so-poignant “Why is this so hard?”—which Bill writes about in his blog this week
. [You should check it out.]
So how can we work together without taking money out of our own pockets? Here are some ideas.PICK UP THE PHONE.
—Call another printer in your area and ask to have a cup of coffee. Treat it as an opportunity to talk about what’s working, what’s not, trends, sales ideas, and general commiseration.START A PEER GROUP.
—Invite a handful of others in your industry to regular conferences. You could hold them at one of your shops, a Panera Bread, or your local library. You don’t have to spend money—you could hold meetings monthly and ask each person to pick a topic and facilitate a monthly meeting; sort of like a book club, but without the wine and a bunch of chicks who didn’t read the book.
PARTICIPATE IN A MORE MEANIGNFUL WAY ON LINKEDIN.
—They can be heard to find, but there are great conversations going on out there about print issues. You just have to know where to look and how to avoid all the spam. I really like “Girls Who Print” and the “Printing Sales Professionals” groups.
The Iowa Writers were all vying for the same publishers, attention, fame and fortune, but many of them still managed to be friends for life. They also read each others’ work, and offered constructive criticism and mentoring. We can do that, too. If you believe in abundance, you’ll know that there is a lot of work out there—we just haven’t managed to get our hands on it yet.
What can you do to be more a part of your print “community?” Please share your ideas by posting a Comment.