02/22/2013 05:59 pm ET Updated Apr 24, 2013

Effective Collaboration

Welcome to the generation of effective and generous collaboration. Gone are the days where it was every man for himself at the office. With the Internet at our fingertips and smartphones, the standard we're in an era where online collaboration is not only encouraged in the workplace and with our customers, but the norm.

Obviously, social media has changed the way companies do business. We can now instantly attract and engage with our customers with super-ninja-marketing power beyond sending out a single email and hoping it gets opened. It's a lot easier and more effective to offer the people who "like" you, your special offers and the opportunity to take advantage of a new product. The conversion is better than just sending an email to a cold client in your database. You can interest your customer with relevant tips, videos, surveys, contests, quotes, links back to your blog or website/shopping cart and keep them wanting and expecting more. You're building value while harvesting relationships. The more free information you can gather and offer to them online, the more they will come back again and again.

I'm in the business of helping people make their dreams come true. My company, Dream University, is focused on generous collaboration and it's one of our core foundations. Customers appreciate the opportunity to collaborate on a mutually beneficial level. I recently put on a five-day multi-speaker event with several hundred participants. We created a social media page for the participants to connect and engage with each other before, during and after the event with an overwhelming response. Ninety percent of our conference participants, speakers and sponsors have joined the group. Being able to connect with like-minded people that you have bonded with during a personal transformation on a supportive platform keeps the momentum going. It's gone beyond the old model of networking, Lifetime friendships, referrals and business prospects are made and kept, these people now feel like family. Ideas are easily shared with people they trust in a safe environment. It's remarkable that people are gathering together outside of the event and have formed little communities. What I've learned the most is that people want to genuinely help and support each other.

Online collaboration is part of our culture and it's not by accident. We've also created a special online collaboration community where people can connect with each other by sharing their dream with the world. When you have a large community, support system and the right tools, dreams can (and do) come true -- and transform faster. How cool is it that you can connect with people who have the same dream that you may have and support each other? You can click here for more information or to post your big dreams.

Fortune 500 companies are no longer the only businesses using online collaboration tools to engage with their own employees. Employee participation in the intranet is at an all-time high, bringing various branches and departments together to create a remote team-like atmosphere that, until now, would require a live meeting of some kind. Now, employees can connect (virtually) with each other without relying on an online meeting system such as GoToMeeting, Conference Plus, FaceFlow and the like. People can ask questions, form groups and masterminds, recognize colleagues, and find information quickly in a trusted, private and safe place. Upper management can post videos, make special announcements, reveal new policies, promotions, etc., which helps employees feel a closer sense of relation; they're now able to put a face to a name which is much more personal than sending an email or inter-office-memo. Employees love the ability to interact freely, it empowers them to forge unions and creatively help each other in their efforts.

With today's complex and persistently changing technology, it can be a challenge to keep up. Upper and middle management in corporate America is now collaborating with their support staff and other departments in a way that will increase development in a project or objective beyond delegating tasks to just get the job done. Collaboration for the better of the company is becoming the standard corporate philosophy and is encouraged which has replaced the more competitive way we used to do business in the '80s and '90s where departments were at odds.

Besides brainstorming, relationship building and enhanced productivity, one of the best parts about utilizing effective collaboration tools, social media or other online platforms is the ability to track analytics to see what's working and what's not so that you can course correct and try something new when needed. Most importantly, if we think in terms of generous collaboration within the operations of our businesses the same way we do in helping or contributing to a good cause -- our team, colleagues and customers will surely feel the difference.

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