The Association

You have competition, but you might be wrong about who they are.

The freelance wedding photographer can easily imagine that the other professional photographers in town are the ones to beat.

The romance author might imagine that the other romance authors are competing for shelf space and sales.

I could give the cold shoulder to Simon or Brene or Pema instead of connecting with them.

But the pie can get bigger.

The competition lies in two areas:

• Big companies and systems.

• Apathy.

Years ago, when the leading providers of AOL got together at an annual conference and compared notes, we all ended up earning more in our next contract negotiations. Not to set prices, but to learn.

When small suppliers share information and insight, they find ways to not only decrease costs, but have more leverage with the bureaucracies they have to wrestle with. That’s a key function of agents–they spread information among disparate suppliers.

And when speakers or authors or musicians work together, they start to chip away at apathy, bringing energy to the parts of the population that didn’t use to care or pay attention.

It’s not okay for Wal-Mart and Target to have secret meetings. But it’s totally appropriate for the little companies they work with to figure out how to band together to be treated more fairly and to increase demand for their category.

Pick up the phone or send an email. Find a few folks in a situation that is just like yours. You might find that they’d appreciate the connection and that you’ll all benefit. As will those you serve.