If a competitor asked you for advice, would you give it? Probably not. Yet take this Altimeter research report on how to get more from Facebook landing pages — sharp stuff. Posted for free. Where their consulting competitors can see it and repurpose it. What gives?
Sharing seems risky, especially among business warriors used to hiding secrets and skewering competitors. This morning, we had coffee with an executive from a competing ad agency to discuss forming a debate panel series, perhaps inviting other agencies from the region, and upon our return to the office met with some skepticism. What? Share ideas?
Now reframe the thought from you vs. them to you in the center of a vast network. You want to reach other nodes of value, potentially future clients, but you can’t find them now. There are threads leading to them, connections through other people, and to reach them you need your message to flow along the paths inbetween. Sharing information means you’ll connect with new nodes (people, organizations) who discover you, and if your transmission has value, they will pass it along. You are increasing via randomness the odds that you will connect with value in the network. It’s akin to a single person, moving into a strange town, deciding to walk downtown to meet new people rather than sit home on the couch. The more random connections, the greater likelihood of a real relationship emerging.
Sharing information didn’t matter much in business when networks were locked away behind hard corporate walls, when sales meant cold calling and door knocking. But today, you can connect with almost anyone. Things can flow anywhere. Your current client base is likely people who almost randomly found you, because they had a need and were searching in their own networks. We suggest you increase such randomness; take your next big idea and give it away.