So last week I had a blast at Skip’s Summer School. Tasra and I gave a presentation on the power of video and social media to extend your brand. We had a Keynote file of 50+ slides. As always, we decided to post the presentation online for people to access. But, there was a tad of a hesitation. Should we? What if people copy it? What if they steal our secrets? Then common sense hit us and we realized that it’s much better off to share this info. In sharing we help the industry, and I firmly believe a rising tide raises all ships.
So the question arises, exactly how much knowledge and information should you share with your fellow colleagues? Do you give them just enough to want more, thereby resulting in buying your DVD or going to your seminar? Do you share nothing, keeping all your “secrets” to yourself? Or do you open up the flood gates and give up ALL the goods? It can be a tough balance, I’ll admit. But, ultimately, IMHO, the more you share, the more it comes back to you. I’m always surprised when I hear of colleagues reluctant or totally unwilling to share their knowledge. A friend of mine at a professional video association told me that he’s had trouble recruiting speakers this year because so many people he’s talked to don’t want to give away their “secrets.” This is another reason why it’s important to establish yourself as a unique brand. No one can copy “YOU.” So, in essence, you don’t need to worry.
If you look at the most respected leaders in any industry, they are always those people who give freely of their knowledge and wisdom. And I don’t mean they just sell DVDs or hold seminars. They’re giving this info away for free. They give of themselves on forums, their blogs, or speak at large association conventions for little, and in some cases, no pay. I believe this attitude to share what they know contributes to their position as leaders in their respective industries.
I do believe there are some situations where you may want to keep some things to yourself. If you have a particular recipe of Magic Bullet video filters, or Photoshop actions that help you achieve a signature “look,” I can understand wanting to keep that private. It’s what helps sets you apart. But, I would see nothing wrong with sharing HOW to manipulate filter or Photoshop actions to help others achieve their own look. It always baffles me when I hear of videographers or photographers not wanting to share their workflow secrets. If you’re just explaining the mechanics of post production, how do you hurt yourself in sharing that info?
THREE GOOD BUSINESS REASONS TO SHARE
If the purely altruistic reasons of giving back to your industry are not enough to get you to cough up the goods, here are three concrete business reasons why it makes sense to share:
- Establish yourself as an expert: when you establish yourself as an expert in any particular field, opportunities open up to you. You can offer coaching or consulting services; you can give seminars; you may be paid to give lectures. Friend and colleague Patrick Moreau of StillMotion in Canada has one of the most successful and highly followed wedding cinematography studios in the world. They have very expensive workshops that sell out completely. I largely believe it’s because Patrick does a great job of offering invaluable information, for free, all over the net. I believe my wife and I were given the opportunity to write our book because of how much value we put on giving away information for free.
- Build a large following: I alluded to this a bit when I mentioned Patrick, but when you freely give of your knowledge, people tend to be attracted to you, and your following can grow. Other examples that come to mind are the video podcasts Dane Sanders has down with AskDane.com, Zack Arias’s photography critiques, or the great marketing advice to videographers given by Doc Yankee. Yes, all these guys have other seminars, books, etc., but they are able to offer and sell those because they give so much great, and useful, FREE information too. As your following grows, so does your business opportunities.
- Karma: what goes around, comes around. This may not seem like a business reason per se, but it actually is. When you establish yourself as a great giver, when times comes that YOU need help, people are there to offer it. Maybe it’s a lens or camera body you need to borrow; or maybe you need help on a shoot; I’ve had numerous times where we’ve saved hundreds, if not thousands of dollars because of the generosity of colleagues who lent a helping hand (or an expensive camera). I think they were willing to do that, not only because they were givers themselves, but they appreciated what little I’ve been able to give.
In the end, you need to decide for yourself how much knowledge you’re willing to give. But, you may find that the tighter you try to hold on to knowledge, the more opportunities will slip through your fingers. Think about it.