Saturday, December 31, 2005

$ No security in obscurity

"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property." - Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson says sharing ideas and knowledge doesn't impoverish the giver, yet I submit it even ENRICHES the giver in that he can see the market value for his ideas. Indeed, if people express appreciation for his ideas (and the quality of the thinking behind them), then they might hire him for contracts.

This is one of the great opportunities at Linkedin: you can share your valuable knowledge and ideas with all your connections. Only then will they see your professional worth, and only then will they think of you if a contract or job opportunity arises.

Yet this requires that one carefully write one's Linkedin profile to reveal one's best ideas, insights and innovations.

Unfortunately, most of the Linkedin profiles I've seen are carelessly written, revealing lack of professional purpose and career focus. This being said, I realize it is difficult to establish a career goal, so it is quite understandable that most people do not have one. But at the very least, since Linkedin is all about networking (i.e. sharing valuable information), one should make some effort in listing one's valuable information somewhere in one's Linkedin profile in order to benefit others and, of course, oneself.

In the end, Jefferson's brilliantly penned quote is more relevant than ever in today's competitive economy, where "there is no security in obscurity." In other words, if other people don't know you through the ideas and information that you circulate, then they cannot buy from you nor offer you jobs or contracts.