Getting results from crowdsourcing – SME Technology Forum Series

In Sydney tonight a bunch of interesting folk gathered to share their experience at The Insight Exchange’s first SME Technology Forum Series event – Getting Results from Crowdsourcing.  After opening remarks from The Insight Exchange’s Chairman Ross Dawson, keynote speakers include IdeasCulture’s Yvonne Adele, Freelancer.com’s Matt Barrie, DesignCrowd’s Alec Lynch and MediaConnect’s Phil Sim.

What I liked about this event is the focus on an interactive format – the majority of the time spent with the keynote speakers was in conversation:  attendees asked questions and became involved in the discussions.  The interactive component continued with four “expert roundtables” to choose from.   I  facilitated a discussion on how building online communities can scale up your relationships for business success.  The other facilitators were Anjaware’s Graham Dawson, Seggr’s Luke Harvey-Palmer and Lead Creation’s Toby Marshall.

It was a very intense 2 1/2 hour event – great use of time but arguably not the best timeslot for the event given the amount of content to digest: I wonder if a lunchtime event or morning event would be better for people’s attention and concentration.  What do you think?  Fortunately its easy to catch up on some of the key content shared via the live tweet stream.  There are a number of ways to do this.  Thanks to a tweet from Annalie Killian yesterday about a new hashtag aggregator called Tagal.us, I created one for this event: see #TIECrowd on Tagalus for the results.

For now, Twitter Search will also display the tweets (Twitter tends to keep search results for 7-10 days).  Another longer-term way is using FriendFeed.

Perhaps my favourite way of keeping track of the tweets, first brought to my attention by Chris Brogan’s How to Listen for Opportunities on Twitter, is by using RSS to import the search results into your RSS Reader.  Read Chris’s post for the low-down on this.  I’d also like to thank Leslie Barry who participated in my discussion tonight and reminded me about Gist – an interesting content aggregator which purports to help you “build stronger relationships by connecting the inbox to web to provide business-critical information about the people and companies that matter most.” (says their website)  Leslie describes Gist on his blog post as his “Life Dashboard” and invaluable so I look forward to trying it out.  I first signed up to the Gist beta in 2008, received an invite in 2009 which had remained unopened in my Inbox until now!  Thanks again Leslie.

My role in the event was to facilitate a discussion on how building online communities can scale up your relationships for business success.

Firstly I introduced myself and talked about what I currently do.  I “synergise people and technology” – these “share words” themselves are the result of a recent crowdsourcing exercise facilitated by my friend Robin Dickinson, which serves as an excellent example of the power of crowdsourcing in itself.  I’ll come back to this in a moment.

Professionally: I started as a programmer, moved into analytical and client service roles in the business information and market research industry, moved into enterprise software sales and currently am a  freelance consultant.  Right now I’m building startups around a new IBM-powered cloud-computing platform, and online communities.  You can connect with me on LinkedIn here.

Personally: on my Twitter Profile I describe myself as a “Geek interested in: Technology (@AskTonyIT) Food (@AskTonyFood). Family man. Values relationships, community, connecting, sharing, learning & helping others.”

I love connecting people and sharing my knowledge – sharing stories and demonstrating how technology generates business benefits.  In my work with IBM Business Partner Task Exchange:
– I bring interesting people to our door (enhancing serendipity/building relationships and opportunity)
– tell stories about what we do (Twitter, Website, blogs/Marketing/relationships and opportunity)

Now back to crowdsourcing.  The Internet has allowed tools to be built which let us connect, collaborate, converse and build community.  Why build community online?  You can scale up your relationships for business success.   Relationships add value to your network, to your brand, and ultimately your bottom line.  I’d rather have someone recommend me to you, than me having to do all the recommending.  How do you feel about “shameless self-promoters”?  You know you’re good, so my advice is to demonstrate why to others, then they will promote you.

The key: it’s in your sharing, not your selling (thanks to @iconic88 for reminding us of this).  Are you prepared to give before you can get?

Some examples of how you can do this:
– create a Group on LinkedIn and link your Twitter updates.  This generates membership and builds relationships with content you choose to share.   A community manager links people to content that interests them.
– Coffee Mornings: informal networking groups (or tweetups) which meet weekly for conversation and ideas. This builds relationships and opportunity for you.  Have a read of the post and comments on How Twitter fosters good “old fashioned” community on the Northside Coffee Mornings blog.
– Nortshide Coffee Mornings regular Robin Dickinson posted on 5th May – “How can I make it easy for people to recommend you” Today there are over 450 comments.  Yvonne Adele who spoke tonight also participated in this exercise and her share-words “freswhly squeezed briliance” were built with assistance from the crowd on that blog.  An excellent example of crowdsourcing for business benefit.
– use any number of Twitter tools to manage the real-time information and help you build your community.  My current favourite is Hootsuite – popular tools are TweetDeck, Seesmic and PeopleBrowsr.

What are the areas of your business that could benefit from crowdsourcing?  Please let me know if you have further questions about this.

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3 thoughts on “Getting results from crowdsourcing – SME Technology Forum Series

  1. Loved the event tonight and was great to meet you Tony.

    I’ve definitely been inspired to ‘crowd source’ components of my business. It’s not just that it’s cost effective, but it also allows me to get projects completed that my team has at the bottom of their list less important tasks, but still important at the same time).

    The best part about events like these is not just the content, but the opportunity to meet likeminded people. It’s inspiring!

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