Information should be shared not sold

Information should be shared not sold

This is a Filofax.

I’ve had a couple of experiences recently that have made really question whether information is really a competitive edge anymore. I’m not talking about proprietary recipes, or things that can be copyrighted. I’m talking about the kind of information that USED to be a gold mine and is now available to everyone if they look hard enough.  Information is no longer for selling…it’s for sharing. Collectively we can get better and make more money.

For example, when I was in sales 100 years ago we kept our client lists very secret. Those relationships and those names were to be guarded with our lives. A colleague of mine once left his Filofax at a bar after a networking event at a bar. Our manager almost fired him, sure that our competition had snapped it up and were busy calling his contacts. Even names of producers used to be sacrosanct…only to be known by those publicists in the “in” crowd.

I don’t think we can use information as a competitive edge anymore. Anybody can buy a subscription to Cision and find out who to pitch. HARO goes out multiple times daily with key information that used to be shared among only a select number of people. Company LinkedIn pages often list key managers. It’s all OUT there already. Why should we pay for it? 

I regularly speak with other PR’s about who they pitch, what I should pitch….in the old days we called it “lifting our skirts”. In today’s world, there’s no way one person can “own” enough information to be more competitive because of it. We have to collaborate and share…and our boats will all lift with the tide as a result. Experts like Daniel Pink and Seth Godin often talk about the power of collaboration internally. Small businesses, entrepreneurs and freelancers need to think the same way externally.

Of course, don’t collaborate with idiots. That’s a given. But the next time a colleague reaches out and wants to “brainstorm” don’t try to charge her for your time. Don’t try to collect commission if he gets a deal. Find the people who understand that we have to collaborate to succeed these days. The old days of competing by “what we know” are over.  Don’t you think?