Steel sharpens steel.

Sharing knowledge and experience online makes us all better. It helps prospective clients make better decisions, and it helps us, as providers, ensure that we’re attracting a client base that we will excel at servicing.

I don’t have competitors, I have peers. I am confident that when I call one of my peers with a problem I can’t solve, they will roll up their sleeves and dig in with me until we find a new way to do things. I am confident that they’re not going to steal my clients. Why? One: you can’t steal happy clients. And, two: if I thought that one of my peers could do a better job than I could, they would already have the contract.

I can’t say this enough times — do what you do best, and get better at it. I have peers who love LOVE to run metrics. They provide daily updates, they expect daily updates from their team, and they do it all in Excel. That would drive me insane. The minute online CRM hit the market I was all over it. I want to work with clients who will log on and pull their own metrics. When a potential client calls me and I hear “daily updates” I know exactly who I’m going to refer them to. And guess what? When he gets a call from someone who works exclusively in Salesforce.com, he calls me. If we considered ourselves competitors, we both would have ended up working contracts we really didn’t enjoy. Instead – same amount of money in our pockets at the end of the day, and we both got the type of client we’re best suited to work with.

This brings me back to collaboration. Put it out there. Let the internet know what you’re looking for, who you work with, what you love to do. Share your best with not only your prospective clients, but with your peers! Thanks to this blog, and some postings on LinkedIn, I have had peers call to offer me contracts that were a poor fit for their firms, but a great fit for my skill set.

The most successful firms in our space right now (if you’re measuring success in dollars) are the ones that are supporting the success of the entire industry. They’re making us all better. We get to learn from their considerable experience while they market to new clients. It’s totally win-win.

Contribute to the industry as a whole, and reap the benefits. Stop competing, and start collaborating. It will pay off.