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Cannibalization and its discontents – consultants and lawyers give away knowledge on the Net

If you build the knowledge, will they come? My field of dreams has been that this blog will attract consulting clients. “Hey, here’s a guy who knows a lot about how to manage things in legal departments, an attorney by training with years of consulting experience, so let’s ping him!” Nagging at the back of my mind, however, is the worry that every blog post I write nibbles away at my stock in trade, what understandings and experience I bring to my consulting projects.

Likewise, every lawyer who displays knowledge on the teeming Web bazaar probably worries after clicking “publish” that the statutory exegesis, explanation of a dissenting opinion, survey of the law, or tip for a practitioner eats up a tiny bit of what the lawyer would otherwise offer a paying client, charging by the hour. Or everyone who posts a form contract may thereby, shall we say, risk contracting his paying projects. Vendors who blog tell competitors about their techniques and strategies, not to mention work product. To blog is to give something away.

Traditional publishing also cannibalizes a professional’s stock in trade, knowledge. The Internet does no worse, because its greater reach and dialogue more than makes up for the anonymity and free loading of readers.

What I share by blogging goes into a pot, bubbling away, and others may digest it all without return to me. What sustains me is that this is where Web 2.0 marketing is going – nourish the world with your best and though many feast for free, perceptive and well written food for thought will win the day.

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