Working in a creative business, we are expected to always be thinking of new ideas. Sometimes this can be a challenge. After all, brilliance doesn’t just happen. Great ideas don’t happen in a vacuum (usually). Sometimes we all need a little push outside of our comfort zone to remind us where good ideas come from.
Over the last few months, I have participated in a monthly conference call with my co-worker, Nadia, and various marketing and sales professionals from all over the country. The purpose of the calls is to discuss and brainstorm about various social media ideas. The discussions only last an hour, but during that short time, something amazing happens. I find myself becoming reenergized and excited, and the ideas and questions begin flowing even faster than usual. I am able to take this newfound energy and re-focus it back into the work I am already doing. Without consciously knowing it, participating in these teleconferences has been the push I need to be the best at my job.
We can’t sit behind our computers and expect great ideas to just appear. Innovation comes from collaboration and is allowed to flourish and grow when inspiration is added to the mix. It’s easy to fall into the routine of only attending meetings that are required and brainstorming only when there is a need for a new idea. Instead, shake it up and find new ways to collaborate with others. You’ll find that new ideas or solutions will come to you for challenges you didn’t even know you had.
Here’s a few ways I have discovered lately that have not only broken up the monotony of the work day, but have reinvigorated me and reminded me why I love being part of a team that is encouraged to find and implement the next big idea:
Organize discussions. Pick a topic and use your networks to bring together others who have the same interest. For example, if you would like to discuss new ways to network, reach out to your friends on Facebook and Twitter and see if anyone else has any interest. Your group doesn’t have to be large to be effective. Once you have a few interested participants, choose a platform to get together. If everyone in your group lives in the same area, having breakfast or coffee together works well. If geography doesn’t allow you to meet in person, a conference call or video chat is the better alternative. Establish a time, topic and moderator and let the ideas flow.
Collaborate with the competition. Being in the same line of work doesn’t mean you can’t have constructive conversations with someone else in your industry. Without sharing too much information, you can talk through issues, empathize and even brainstorm with your competitors. These conversations can even pave the way for sharing leads later on, once you understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Attend events with experts. Attending events that focus on a topic you are interested in is not only a great way to network within your industry, but it’s also a way to educate yourself about the latest trends and gauge how well you measure up to others doing the same thing you do. Occasionally I have found myself attending an event only to realize I might just know more than the expert. This is a great way to stay on top of your game and can also be a little confidence booster from time-to-time.
Hold impromptu brainstorm sessions. In a perfect world, we could go to work every day and accomplish everything on our list without any distractions. Not only would that be unrealistic, but it would also be pretty boring. Sometimes the best ideas come from unplanned discussions that have little to do with the task at hand. Give yourself flexibility to allow these discussions to happen; you never know what you might miss.
Bookmark places of inspiration. When you come across websites that get you excited about your industry, bookmark them so you can revisit them later. Here are a few sites I visit when I am looking for some inspiration: http://www.colourlovers.com, http://www.springwise.com and http://sethgodin.typepad.com.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in everyday tasks and forget that there is an opportunity not only to do the work, but to create the work we want to do.
Now I will throw it to you, the reader. How do you reenergize and refocus your mind?
Megan Lane is part of the client relations team at Imagine Marketing.
Contact Megan at email@example.com.