playgroundSocial media has ushered in a new era of sharing.  I’m not simply talking about adding social media sharing tools like ShareThis on a blog or video to help it go viral.  I’m talking about a genuine interest to help each other out by sharing data, projects and your online 15-minutes of fame with someone else.  The mantra of the day is about being a resource, listening, preferring someone else above yourself and helping each other out – including some groups that can be considered “competition”.

The mean kids on the social media playground are those that don’t want to lonelyshare their toys.  They think open source is evil, anything without their logo is inferior, and look at partnerships as a sell-out.  Curling up in the corner alone with your toy makes for a very boring play date.  If you run into someone in social media who is always tooting their own horn, quick to bring out the “expert” title, and feeling the need to always dis their competitors run, Forrest, run.  And for the love of man, don’t be “that guy”.

It’s a great trend to have been renewed and become popular – especially for the business world, where everything has been built on the money-making factor.  Don’t get me wrong.  There’s nothing wrong with making money.  However, the way to make money is slightly different.  Now we make friends, followers and networks, and we’ve gone from slick, gimmicky commercials designed to separate people from their money to loyalty-building programs and reputation management, which in the end, will bring the same (if not better) dollar result.  In short, you make money by building your business on the Golden Rule with a Pay-It-Forward approach.

Look for ways to do more sharing in your business – even if its off-line.  Free eBooks, tips, service, widgets, webinars, surveys or whatever – just do it!  Promote others over yourself.  Don’t make negative comments about your competitors.  Be open to listening and learning new things from those in your industry and even those that aren’t.  And when you do, pass it on to others who may also find the information valuable.

In the short term it may feel like madness, but in the long run you really do “reap what you sow.”  Those that share will end up with friends and loyal customers; those that don’t will end up playing alone.