in Higher Ed

Sharing the secret sauce



I want you to share what you know. I was at a professional event recently and met a guy who was just starting out with managing social media at this college. He was excited and was just bouncing ideas off of me after seeing me on Twitter. After talking for a few minutes, he said “well I don’t want you to give away the secret sauce. I just wanted to pick your brain a bit.”

I laughed and told him that I wanted to give away the secret sauce. After all, what are we talking about? Tactics? Insider baseball specific to a particular institution? It made me think a bit as we get into conference season about how we communicate ideas, how we interact with others and the sorts of things we can learn as people are sharing and giving their insights outside of workshops and events.

People want to give others insights. For me, I want others to do things better because it raises the bar for all of us. If you’re doing better, it’s going to be better for me because I’ll just need to improve whatever it is I’m working on to keep up with whatever it is we’ve released into the wild. The other thing is, sharing opens doors. By sharing with someone what you know, I’m more likely to find someone else who is open to sharing things with me. But not everything is about what you get from it. I just get excited talking about the things we do at work or side projects that bleed over into off-work time. I know I’m not the only one. 

Here are some things to think about when it comes to sharing with others and stuff to keep in mind:

  • You’re obviously not going to share privileged information. When I talk about sharing, I’m obviously not talking about sharing what happened in the meeting yesterday or last week. Or something that might embarrass your institution. On the other hand, a “lesson learned” or talking about what you did, might be helpful. You have to use your own discretion here.
  • Think about what you want to know. People have limited time. Conferences are a dizzying time to interact and share with others. Resist the urge to want to pick someone’s brain ad nauseum. Instead, talk for a bit and move on. They might be too nice to say “look, I need to go. There are lots of other people I want to meet too.” Do it for them. Be kind.
  • Find your expertise. Seek out ways to share. We all have things to share. Seeking out mentors is one way to grow your knowledgebase, but you also seek out others or be available to give more, too.

There are no secrets. There’s stuff we’ve done and thing we’re going to do. Understanding that in an connected world, ideas aren’t things to horde but to be shared.