It's a hard lesson to absorb at first: Share the best information, even if it means sharing good stuff from, by, or about your competitors.

It goes against instinct. What if someone decides they like our competitor more because of something we shared? What happens if our competitor gets more traffic because of something we shared?

Exactly: What happens? Nothing, really.

You're the one who influenced the person. You're the one who provided information that was so compelling to people that they had make use of it.

When I first started working with publishers on social media several years ago, I urged them to use Twitter to develop their voice as an authority on the subject. Share the latest and most important information about your topic, even if it doesn't come from your site.

Be the authority on your topic. Be the person, place or thing that people turn to when they want to know what's happening.

I was reminded of this after downloading the Quartz news app, which is truly unique for a variety of reasons. Most of the factors that have been pointed out have been its one-of-a-kind interface, which makes it feel as if you're getting the news from someone you know via text.

I quickly noticed, however, that the news Quartz was sharing with me didn't all come from Quartz. Sure, at least one or two of the three to five stories shared at a time come from their site. But more stories come from other news sources. Each "message" contains a link to the entire story, allowing you to go more in-depth from the source itself.

Quartz recognized that what would make its app valuable would be to provide the top stories of the moment, regardless of source.

Think about that: A news organization deciding to provide links to news, some of which are from its competitors.

By doing this, Quartz is doing its job. It's providing the biggest (or sometimes just most bizarre) stories that are happening at that moment. It's made me recommend the app to several people.

When I realized I was actually evangelizing a news app, I stopped and thought about what it meant about the source of the app. I have a more positive association now with Quartz because of how they are providing news to me. If I see two links to the same story elsewhere on the web, I might be more inclined to select the one to Quartz.

The real point here is that if you prove yourself to be indispensable and of value, people will listen to you. People will think of you first when they're trying to find information on whatever your focus or topic is. They will tell others to seek you out for the same.

And that's a win, no matter what.

Published on: Feb 26, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.