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  • Writer's pictureStacey Rivers

5 Questions to Supercharge Your Side Projects

In one of my previous articles, I shared that you never know when an opportunity may come knocking. When it happens, will you be prepared to answer with a resounding “Yes”? Well, it happened to me (again). As I was writing an article for my Ph.D. course, I received a text from my friend Syreea. She wanted to chat about joining her colleagues in developing a workbook for women in tech. I was very interested in collaborating on a new book. As a published author myself, I wanted to write another book, but I knew I didn’t have much bandwidth. This text from Syreea piqued my interest, and I had to learn more. After chatting with Alana Karen, the book’s author, I knew this was a project I had to join. As the saying goes, an opportunity is not an opportunity unless you are prepared. To my surprise, this opportunity came when I had a desire to write content aligned with the workbook’s objective. In retrospect, I realized the project’s success reinforced the value of relationships and collaboration, hence this week’s lesson: How to Successfully Collaborate with Peers to Supercharge Your Side Projects.

Meet Alana Karen

Alana is an award-winning tech leader, author, and speaker whose work impacts many of our everyday lives. From Google Search to Ads, Fiber to Google Grants, and beyond, she has been leading the charge to develop, scale, build and drive team and product development that has seen a rippling industry impact. Alana’s book, “Adventures of Women in Tech: How We Got Here and Why We Stay”, aggregates hundreds of stories from women leaders in tech on leadership, DEI, talent, and innovation. With Alana’s latest project, “The Adventures of Women In Tech Workbook,” she designed it to help answer the career questions women had after reading her book.

Upon joining the team (Alana, Marily, Georgia, and Syreea), I was enlightened that none of us have the time to do what we love; we just make time for our side projects when we can. I thought I was the only one writing late at night, early in the morning, typing on my phone in the checkout line at the grocery store, or sitting on my laptop in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. What I discovered was, I’m not alone. Many more women are seizing whatever time they can to incorporate their passions into their lives daily. I realized whether you are married, single, have kids, or not, there is always something competing for your time. Prioritizing what is important to you will make it easier to choose how you manage your day and what you can accomplish.

Collaborating with Peers

Embarking on a collaborative project with colleagues can be exciting and a new opportunity to supercharge your side projects. But, before you take any action:

  • Review your career goals for where you can improve

  • Assess if you are on track for the goals you’ve set

  • Determine whether you need to make changes

If changes are needed, how can a collaborative project support your goals? If this is the direction, then it is imperative to plan accordingly. Whatever the project may be, you should set milestones to gauge your progress and explore ideas to enhance your brand.

CAREER TIP: NEVER overpromise and underdeliver; this is counterproductive and will negatively affect your brand and relationships.

If you are seeking to join a collaborative project to fuel your side projects, then here are a few questions to consider:

  1. What are your interests and areas of strengths? Your interest should be directly supported by the project. Also, you should have solid skills to ensure your contribution will meet expectations. If the benefits are not clear, you should rethink your plan.

  2. What limitations or constraints could impact your ability to operate in excellence? Clearly communicate what you won’t be able to do so that everyone is on the same page. This may include writing it out in email and discussing a plan with your collaborators for any gaps.

  3. How will the project help support your career goals? Be clear about strategic volunteering — this is when you AND others benefit from your participation. Have a solid connection from the outcomes of the project and the career goal it supports.

  4. What is your measure of success? Despite what some may think, busyness is not progress. Have your own idea of what “success” is for you. Will the payoff come in the form of instant gratification, or are you playing the long game?

  5. How are you building authentic relationships? A collaborative project is a great way to expand your network with genuine connections. One of your goals should be to build real relationships, not come across as opportunistic.

The “Adventures of Women in Tech Workbook” exceeded my expectations for a side project, and I am pleased with my contribution to the workbook. I am elated to join my peers who are dynamic women committed to educating other women in tech. The career wisdom my colleagues are paying forward is invaluable and something everyone should take advantage of. You can check it out on Amazon or the book’s website to see more. Stay tuned for more great things from this group! In the meantime, please let me know if you’ve found your posse, tribe, or like-minded peers and how the collaboration is supporting your career goals.


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