How do you promote yourself and share your knowledge and expertise without giving too much away? How do you make your potential clients understand how to do what you do, without giving them all the knowledge they need to do it without you.

You don’t. Share everything. Share it all.

For some people, this is hard advice to accept. Their knowledge is all they have. They think if they give it away for free, they’re going to put themselves out of a job.

Actually, the opposite will be true. The more you give away, the more business you’ll get.

There are two ways to think about it:

Technology Makes Us Want More, Not Less

Back when the Victrola was first invented, orchestra managers worried that this would spell the end of the orchestra, because everyone would rather sit at home and listen to the scratchy wax cylinders instead of going to the orchestra hall.

The problem was, they were, well, scratchy wax cylinders, and not at all like an evening in an acoustically-perfect symphony hall. If anything, they encouraged more people to go, because they got to hear a lesser-version of the music, which made them want to hear the real thing.

The same is true with your blog posts and your DVDs or YouTube movies. Sharing your knowledge in snippets and bits will only make people want to hear you in person. They’ll want to see and hear you up close, they’ll want your conversations to be about them, and not about whoever was on the DVD.

If this weren’t true, everyone would buy their training from DVDs and never hire another in-person trainer, ever.

If You Shared THIS, What Else Do You Have In the Tank?

It’s funny, but even as you share knowledge, people always assume you have more. Share a little, you must only have a little. The more you share, the more you’re assumed to have. And as you share, people want that secret sauce, that extra in the tank, that you’re holding in reserve.

Now, this is where you can really shine. Because the one thing you should never, ever do is create strategy for free. I am constantly asked by well-intentioned people to coffee and lunch so they can pick my brain, and they want it for free. (I make them buy lunch or my coffee, of course.)

But I only share the stuff that I’ve already put out in my books (affiliate link) or written on my blog. If someone wants a strategy or they want me to help them execute a plan, that’s where they get to pay my monthly retainer.

You can do the same thing as a trainer: share the basics, the things that people could read on your blog, your books, or by Googling the very question they want to answer. But then ask them for a commitment to have you train their staff when they want more than you’re willing to offer.

Just remember, it’s that initial sharing of knowledge that got them interested in you in the first place. Now is the time to get them to commit to an engagement.


Erik Deckers is the owner of Professional Blog Service, and the co-author of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself. His new book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing, which he wrote with Jason Falls, is in bookstores and on Amazon now.