This month the cover of Wired Magazine will exhort you to join the free economy. Lately writers like Seth Godin and Shel Israel are putting whole chapters of their upcoming books online. Last year the band Radiohead put its new album online and invited fans to download it and pay on the honor system.
What’s going on here? Doesn’t anyone want to make any money anymore?
Once upon a time information was held in close by its sources. If you wanted to know how your stocks were doing, you had to wait for the next day’s newspaper to arrive at your doorstep. Buying a car was a byzantine process of negotiating with the dealer who had to talk to his manager and wanted to sell you undercoating. Booking a room in a hotel was an act of faith that the description in the AAA book was accurate. And encyclopedias treated the sum of human knowledge as copyrighted private intellectual property.
Now we have instant access to more information than ever existed previously in the history of humanity. We have access to the sum of all human knowledge at the click of a mouse. We know the cost of a car to the dealer before we even walk in the showroom. We know if the hotel that promises a waterfront view actually offers one. And we can listen to the new Radiohead album before purchasing it.
This is nothing short of a profound change in how we value intellectual currency in the open market. And it has a direct impact on your agency and your career.
As professional services firms, all we have to sell is our intellectual chops. And how can we best show off those chops? By sharing. For free.
Think about it, would you book a room in a hotel if their web site didn’t have pictures of the typical guest room? Would you buy a car if you couldn’t compare the price without the pressure of a salesperson standing over you? So why would anyone hire you or your firm if they didn’t have a taste of what you can offer them?
By sharing, through blogs, podcasts, videoblogs and other social media tools, you are not only showing off your smarts, you are setting yourself up as an expert in your field. Since more and more people look to the Web as a source of information on everything from which car to buy, where to vacation and what marketing firm to hire for their company, putting your smarts out there on the Web means it will be found by potential customers.
If you aren’t sharing, it’s like the tree in the proverbial forest – you can’t be heard. If you aren’t using all of the social media tools at your disposal, no one can find you and you aren’t showing off what you have to offer to potential employers, business partners or clients.
So go out there and share what you have to offer. You might get a lot more in return than you would have if you chose to keep it to yourself.