I was just listening to Pat Flynn record an episode of his podcast, Let’s Ask Pat. He was recording it on Periscope, a livestreaming app, allowing his viewers to watch live while he conducts business. He was answering a question from someone who was curious what to do when her competition follows her content. Pat inspired me to answer that question for my attorney clients.
Do You Suspect Your Competition Is Spying On You?
Do you suspect your competitors are following you on social media, or subscribing to your newsletter or blog, or looking at your contacts on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook so that they can watch what you’re doing?
Even if you don’t suspect it, they are.
First, let’s back up a minute.[Tweet “Let’s back up a minute. These people you think are your competitors might not be after all. “]
- Do they do the exact same thing you do?
- Do they have your same skill set?
- What about the exact experiences and background you bring to the table when you advise your clients?
- Do they occupy the geographic space you occupy?
- Do they have your same personality?
- Do they approach clients and matters the same way you do?
- Have they had to work their way through the same challenges and adversity you have?
- Do they work for the same firm?
- Do they have the same set of clients you have that give you a rich, unique view of your practice area and issues?
Your Mind Is Valuable Real Estate
I have a feeling the answer to most of the questions above is “no.”
One caution for you:[Tweet “We often let those we perceive as competition occupy a space in our minds they don’t deserve.”]
We get stuck in a rut because we compare ourselves to them, thinking they are doing something better than we are, or they are smarter, or must be attracting more or better business because they’re so visible.
We get all tied up in knots thinking we are losing market or client share to them when we aren’t always sure that is the case. Yes, we sometimes find out someone else won the business we were being considered for because our potential or current clients tell us that happened, but I’m not talking about those definitive, black and white cases where the facts are, indeed, facts.
I’m talking about the times when we observe others we put into the category of competition. We often have the tendency to let what they are doing defeat us, or cause us to stray from our real job and goals because we think they are doing it better, or because we simply want to beat them at some game we invent in our minds that doesn’t actually exist.
We Are No Different Than They Are
Why do we think that? Why do we think they are doing something better than we are? Because we spy on them! We are often no different than that which concerns us about them.[Tweet “We are, or should be, in the game of intellectual spying.”]
What do we do?
- We follow (or at least watch) them in social media.
- We peek at their followers on Twitter.
- We might even take a look at their connections on LinkedIn.
- We see who they talk to on Facebook.
- We subscribe to their blogs, sometimes even with an anonymous name, sometimes not.
- We go incognito, and look at their LinkedIn profile and posts so they won’t know it’s us.
- We sign up for their free ebook or tip sheet.
- …and so on.
You know what? That’s all okay!
Whether they are doing it to you, or you are doing it to them, this doesn’t have to be a major issue. What good can come from intellectual spying on either side? Well, it is often the case that someone is going to:
- Be smarter
- Be wiser
- Be more aware of issues that are important
- Be ready for market activity when it happens
- Be motivated to stop procrastinating, and get some work done
- Form alliances with those who complement our business
- Cultivate referral sources from people who are conflicted out of matters
I never want you to copy exactly what you see someone else doing. That would be unethical, and sometimes illegal depending on what was copied, and….well….not nice.
But that’s definitely not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about your competitors watching you, and you watching them…all to to become better and smarter at what you do.
Whether someone is subscribing to your content, or you are subscribing to theirs, I wouldn’t spend a lot of time trying to manage it, or deleting them from your database, or blocking them on social media. They are going to resubscribe at some point, or are going to find it elsewhere, so why spend your valuable time managing others who think they need to be like you?
They’re not like you. You’re not like them. Don’t get distracted by activity that isn’t moving you closer to your goals…YOUR GOALS…not someone else’s.
- Let it go.
- Learn from others.
- Let them learn from you if they want to.
- Watch out for your intellectual property. That’s a different issue.
- Don’t get so consumed by worrying about someone you perceive as competition when they are not.
- Continue doing what you do best.
- Shine as the lawyer you know how to be.
- Demonstrate your intellect through what you say, do and publish.
- Welcome those who think they want or need to learn from you.
- Learn what you really need and want to learn from others.
- Mind your business and your practice…not theirs.
What About You?
Do you suspect others subscribe to you, follow you, or watch what you’re doing because they are practicing intellectual spying? Do you subscribe to content to stay ahead of your professional curve? I know I do.
Thank to Pat Flynn for inspiring today’s post!
Nancy Myrland is a Marketing, Content, Digital & Social Media Speaker, Trainer & Advisor, helping lawyers and legal marketers grow by integrating all marketing disciplines. She is a frequent LinkedIn and Twitter trainer, as well as a content marketing specialist. She helps lawyers and legal marketers understand how to make their marketing and business development efforts more relevant to their current and potential clients, and helps lead firms through their online digital strategy when dealing with high-stakes, visible cases. As an early and constant adopter of social and digital technology, she also helps firms with blogging, podcasts, video marketing and livestreaming. She can be reached via email here.