Crowdsourcing for fun and profit

28 Jul 2011 | written by David Bradford for the Small Business Tips section(s)

Crowdsourcing for fun and profit

Every day in business, you are confronted with problems. I don’t know about you, but I can only solve a small fraction of them myself. I walk down the hall of my office and will frequently consult with a colleague to seek their advice on how to handle a potential legal matter, or how to deal with a particular personnel issue, or how to find a new employee to fill a critical role in the organization. We will spend 30 minutes or so chatting about the issue. Then it is back to my desk hoping the advice and counsel of my friend can be incorporated into solving my business challenge. This was the OLD WAY OF SOLVING BUSINESS CHALLENGES.

But there is a revolutionary way of getting things done and solving problems brought to us, courtesy of the new wave of social media and commerce that has swept the Internet world. And yet I have only seen a very small minority of folks actually begin to leverage the power of social media to succeed in their business endeavors. That old way of bumping into Bill and going to lunch with Bob may be comfortable and easy to do, but compared to what you could be doing, it is incredibly inefficient and unlikely to have a significant impact on your future business. Instead of seeking the advice of a single individual to solve your problem, seek the knowledge of the masses to quickly and efficiently help you further your success in business.

People wonder all the time at my capacity to get so many things done seemingly simultaneously. Let me tell you my dirty, dark secret: I don’t have just one or two friends helping me solve my business issues, I have thousands of them!

One of the beauties of this fact is that I am able to quickly and efficiently uncover the people who have specific expertise on any issue I may be confronting. I don’t have to rely on being “lucky” that my colleague in the adjacent office will have a solution. If I am looking for a Senior VP of Marketing that has a specific skill set in, say, digital media, I frame my question to my thousands of Internet connections and try to obtain the best possible result. So I will post a Facebook message to my 5,000 Facebook friends that reads simply: “Who is the best Marketing guy you know in matters related to digital media?”

Another Facebook tool I have is this: I have categorized all 5,000 Facebook friends into roughly 50 categories. One of the categories is “Marketing and PR.” Approximately 350 of my Facebook friends have backgrounds in this area. How do I know? Whenever I add a new Facebook friend, I religiously and almost obsessively study that person’s background and interests. It takes me just 30 seconds to a minute to peruse their profile. I then place that person into the appropriate list or category. Many go into three or more of my groups. Categorization of one’s social network can be a killer tool and getting to deploy the power of the masses in solving business problems.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  • Faye Oney |   Jul 29th, 2011 at 7:47 am

    Great topic; I love the idea of using the “wisdom of the crowds” to solve problems. I use this technique frequently in my LinkedIn groups when I want to learn something new or get my questions answered.

  • Jordan |   Aug 3rd, 2011 at 5:45 am

    This is fantastic advice to getting problems solved quickly and efficiently!
    I think a word of caution should go out to people first experimenting with social media tools. Everything you post online can be seen by A LOT of people so when you are asking for advice from people make sure not to say something that if the wrong people read could hurt you. This is one of those things that people don’t seem to understand until it is too late.

    – Jordan Sorensen

  • Roxy Cross |   Aug 3rd, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    You still lead the way in efficient and effective use of social media in business!

  • arthur @ Internet Marketing Blog |   Sep 24th, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    David, I really appreciate the effort you have put in making this
    post so useful for all of us new to crowdsourcing for fun and profit :)

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