Generosity is a huge part of the social media experience. The sharing of links, news and information are the most obvious examples of this, but even more important is generosity in supporting others. Even if they may be your competitors.

This is a difficult attitude for a lot of companies–both large and small–and for some it’s insurmountable. Some of my coaching clients have really resisted it until I could show them the value of sharing more than broadcasting their own value 24/7. They can’t imagine why they would want to promote anything but their own company. In fact, social media is all about focusing on others and not on yourself. Nobody wants to relate to the person at the party who spends the whole time talking about herself. They hang out with the girl who asks the right questions and has all the great stories.

Don’t want to say nice things about your competitors? Step back a moment. Say it aloud. How do you think it makes you look to potential clients? If you’re confident that your product or service is good enough to stand up against the competition why do you need to pretend they don’t exist? On her blog Beth Kanter mentions the term “Lethal Generosity” as defined by Shel Israel in his book Twitterville. Shel defines it as “Generosity attached to a branding strategy.” and uses the beer company Molson as an example of a company dominating their niche with a show of generosity in campaigns like this one. While some may say it’s easy for a big brand to afford to be generous it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to give back to your network.

Social media generosity 101:

Do you research new information in your niche? Share links and write summaries to share with your network. This shows you’re on top of what’s going on out there and demonstrates your authority. It also drives links back to your social profiles and even your web site when people want to learn more about you.

Say thank you. Geez, do I have to explain why common courtesy is necessary? When someone shares your content or says something about your brand let them know you’re paying attention.

Be the answer girl. Be the person people know will have the answer and the latest news. It costs so little to take the time to find pertinent relative information to share.

Look for ways to help. Listen for opportunities to help the people in your network. When they ask a question find the solution. If they’re raising awareness for a cause you can get behind, do it.

Comment. When I write a blog post it feels so good to see that not only did people read it but they have something to add to the discussion. Comment when it’s appropriate. Add value to the conversation.

Ask questions. When was the last time you asked someone on your social media network how things are going? It’s so simple and yet so important to be human and reach out on a one to one level.

Links in your blog. When you write a blog post take a minute to do some searches to find links that will add value for your reader and give props to the people who are also writing about a similar topic.

Use guest blogging. Is there a rising star or an established blogger who could add value to what you have to say? Ask them to guest post on your blog.

Re-tweet with a comment. When somebody in your Twitter network says something smart re-tweet them and comment if there’s room. Share their brilliance with your own following.

Give credit where credit is due. When you read a great blog post or find a great resource while researching, share it instead of re-writing or simply plagiarizing it. If you’ve got something to add write your own post and share the link love with a link back.

On Twitter? Create a page. This is an effortless way to feature the people in your network who are sharing great information.