One of my LinkedIn connections — we’ll call her Julie — recently asked, in essence, “How can I improve my status as an industry expert, without others stealing my ideas? I’m writing a book, and this concerns me. I don’t know how to offer value without sharing everything I know.”
Julie had hit upon a common conundrum. Our Internet age requires great content, and lots of it, to generate attention. As well, lots of valuable, free content is required to achieve expert status. How can one avoid getting ‘ripped off’…or is this even an issue to worry about?
The answer is…yes…and no…and, it depends.
Space does not allow us to delve into trademark and copyright rules here. Much excellent information is available to help you become familiar with the rules. For today, however, we’ll limit our discussion to LinkedIn.
What Is Expert Status, Anyway?
Expert status is a somewhat indefinable combination of transparency, visibility, influence and accuracy. Experts are made, not born. Julie is on the right track as a soon-to-be-published book author, a nearly instant expert status symbol.
Not everyone wishes to be perceived as an expert. Most of us are content to maintain a smaller sphere of influence among clients, prospects and colleagues. If our increased visibility leads to interesting connections, paying work, maybe even a cool joint venture or two, terrific.
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What about those who lie in wait for flashes of your brilliance, because they’re too lazy to think for themselves? It happens. Groupthink is the order of the day. One person writes an original blog post on a hot topic, and hundreds of other bloggers pick it up, writing a post about the original post. Senseless? Maybe. Lazy? No doubt. But a rip off? No. Actually, all of those reposts add to the writer’s sphere of influence and, therefore, his or her expert status!
LinkedIn Success Begins with Information Sharing
Without connection, engagement and sharing across millions of members, there would be no LinkedIn. Certainly, achieving expert status requires consistent, high quality information sharing. For example, my blog posts here on GreenBuzz give tips, tricks and strategies to enhance your LI experience. I could say, “I’m not going to give all my knowledge away for free. People have to pay me for this stuff!” But this attitude is shortsighted. Yes, I need to make a living, but it is the unbridled sharing which draws quality clients to me…clients who recognize I can help them achieve their goals, and who are willing to pay for specialized help.
The fact is, I would have to blog 24/7 to dispense everything I know about LinkedIn and, still, there would be new topics to write about. Am I hurting myself by giving away so much information no prospect feels the need to conduct paying business with me? Absolutely not. In fact, the opposite is true.
So what is the solution? Create lots of fresh, vibrant, meaningful content, share it with your LI network, then wash, rinse, repeat. Forget what others might be doing. Honestly, most people will read your thoughts, leave a comment, and move on to something else. In terms of sheer stats, it is rare that your work will be swiped.
American author Fran Lebowitz once said, “Original thought is like original sin: both happened before you were born to people you could not have possibly met.”
That Fran…she was a smart lady, don’t you think?
Next Week: The Hot Debate Over LinkedIn Profile Ownership
Victoria Ipri is CEO of Modello Media, Inc., an e-marketing strategy firm based in suburban Philadelphia, PA. She welcomes your questions and comments on this forum, or contact her directly at: ModelloMedia@gmail.com