Do you have a drill? If so, you probably use it for a few minutes each month and then it spends the rest of the time in a cupboard.
And what about your neighbor? He probably has one in his shed too.
To be real, we don’t actually want a drill. We just want a hole in the wall when we need one!
How much stuff have we collected over the years that we don’t actually need? Because of the arrival of the internet and social networks, it’s increasingly easy to bring together supply and demand, and need and solution.
eBay has been helping for years to ensure things you no longer need can be sold relatively easily: what used to be physical is now possible virtually. Recently we have seen lots of smart initiatives turn up like ‘share purchasing’, ‘service exchange’ and ‘dare-to-ask’. Asking used to be stupid. Asking used to mean you couldn’t handle things yourself and you were showing your weakness. ‘Durftevragen’ (Ed. dare-to-ask) (with live events, on Facebook, #dtv on Twitter and even as a book) is making asking cool again. Nowadays asking for feedback is increasingly seen as a strength.
And to make it even better: as it turns out, most people really like helping others! Recently, I arrived early one morning at Schiphol from Curacao. I hadn’t been able to organize a taxi from station Breukelen to Nyenrode. From the train I placed an appeal on Twitter and Facebook: who can give me a lift? When I arrived in Breukelen, a friendly unknown person was waiting for me, and he very kindly drove my things and me to Nyenrode. It made us both very happy! Whether it’s finding a lift from A to B, help with your bookkeeping, organizing a Flashmob or a cleanup campaign for rubbish across the country: likeminded souls will always find one another.
With no effort, no costs, and… no self-interest. If sharing is the new having, then giving is the new receiving…
But some are still worried by the many crowdfunding, collaborative consumption and other ‘share platforms’ on the internet.
Can you trust all those virtual strangers? In her inspiring speech on TED.com, Rachel Botsman explained that the opposite is true: ‘technology is enabling trust between strangers.’ Because all the information is visible and findable, you can very easily deduce someone’s ‘track record’. It makes conmen and women especially visible. If you can choose Pete who came good on 99% of his 798 agreements or Joe who has a ‘dissatisfied’ next to half of his 4 agreements, you know who to choose! And you know what: the majority of people on these websites can be trusted, like in ‘real-life’ (where you won’t find the statistics on people’s foreheads, unfortunately…).
And what do we have to lose as far as service swapping or knowledge sharing is concerned? If two people exchange a Euro, they still both have a Euro. If they exchange ideas, they have two ideas afterwards, or may even have created a new idea. A candle does not burn any less by lighting another candle. So sharing is increasingly less ‘scary’, especially in our current knowledge economy.
That’s why more and more professionals are giving away their knowledge and tips for free. In blogs, in YouTube videos or simply live. Services are shared more too: my masseur is taking part in a free publicity workshop I am giving soon in exchange for a few massages. This exchange has great value for both of us, and the deal is made with closed wallets.
What do you have to give? Unused things? A listening ear? Are you good at DIY or have a specific skill? And what do you need? Someone to clean your house? Do your garden? A sitter for your kids or pets?
Before grabbing your wallet, get behind Google and see whether you can make a deal. And learn how good it feels to give. And to receive.
‘We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.’ Winston Churchill
‘What do you have to lose as far as service or knowledge sharing are concerned?’