Why helping the competition won’t kill you

I saw a quote recently on a competitor’s website, which said “There are two rules for success… 1. Never reveal everything you know.”

I wasn’t entirely sure if I agreed with it, so I asked my Twitter followers what they thought.

Interestingly, the men who replied said they agreed with the statement, and the women said they didn’t agree.

Just a coincidence? I can’t be certain.

Here’s why I don’t think helping other people will hurt you.

We’re taught to keep our work to ourselves. 

Do you remember how we used to cover our work with our arms in school so no one would copy us?

All our lives we’ve been taught to keep our work to ourselves, and by the time schools and universities tried to introduce group work, we were too set in our ways to really embrace it.

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But, we actually collaborate every day without thinking about it. 

In the real world collaborations are happening all the time, between celebrities and brands, between brands in different niches, between business owners and entrepreneurs.

From personal experience, some of the best managers I’ve worked for as a journalist have been huge fans of collaboration, some of the biggest bloggers I learn from and look up to share what they know for free, and if you’re ever backstage at a fashion show (or in a women’s bathroom for that matter) all that’s being done is the exchange of health, hair, beauty, fashion, dating and career tips.

Journalism, really, is all about collaboration; the efforts of the subject of the story, the writer, the editor and the photographer all come together into a piece that, if everyone works together, is the best representation of what’s really happening.

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Two heads are better than one, because we don’t know everything. 

I mean, have you ever tried putting up a tent by yourself?

Working with your competitors is a no-brainer; you’re in the same niche and you’re stronger together. For example a travel blogger with a thousand readers a month could always benefit from guest posting on a travel website with 3 million readers a month.

What’s in it for the bigger website you ask? Free content.

Think about what you have to offer, not what you have to gain and collaboration will come easy. (Click here to tweet this)

The key is this; no one can do it like you do it. I could literally give you my entire schedule for the week, my article notes and connections, and you would do every single task differently to the way I would have done it.

People who know talented people are always more useful than a single talented person with no connections.

At some point we have to admit that we don’t know everything. We live in a DIY culture where we can Google something and learn how to do it in an afternoon. I think this makes us depend on ourselves too much, and get used to building everything alone.

How much better could we be if we let web designers do their job, or outsourced photography to someone who actually has a professional camera and Photoshop? I’m sure a lot of websites would look 10 times better.

Employers like Myleik Teele, who is the founder of subscription service Curl Box, hires against her weaknesses – that means she hires those people who can do things she cannot, instead of learning how to do everything herself.

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Don’t be a crab. 

It’s so off putting when people say “I don’t give away my knowledge for free” or “You’ll have to pay me if you want to know that.”

If I know how to do it, and you ask me, I’ll tell you, and probably provide a link back to the person that told me how to do it.

Instead of keeping each other down like crabs in a barrel, the information in our heads could be used to lift each other up. There isn’t just one space at the top, there’s room for all of us, and if there isn’t currently, they’ll have to make more space up there.

Keeping important information that could help others to yourself doesn’t help anyone, competition is healthy, and it makes you work harder.

If I tell you everything I know, I’ve then brought you up to my level, and to beat you I have to out do you in another way, I have to outwork you.

I remember the exact person who told me that I needed to be blogging three times a week if I wanted to be taken seriously (Mattie James), the person who taught me about offering content upgrades in exchange for people’s email addresses (Maya Elious) and even the person who told me there were places online where I could get high resolution stock photos for free (Hayley Carr aka London Beauty Queen.)

Is it a coincidence that they’re all women? I can’t be certain.

 

You can now sign up to my email list to receive my free workbook on how to market your content effectively on and offline:

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” – Romans 12: 4-5

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