I recently picked some of the brains of local techies at a Tweetup (gathering for Twitter users) about how to go about making some things happen on the website of what was then a client. I was amazed at all of the helpful advice that I got. All you have to do is ask!
Say you want to know how to do something new and fancy on your website, your Facebook page, or you just want to figure out how the heck to use Twitter. All you have to do of course is type in your question to Google and the first page is likely to send you to message boards and sites like Answers.com, Yahoo Answers, WikiAnswers, and other crowd sourcing sites that helpful anonymous people on the ‘net participate in. It’s no replacement for consulting an expert, and in the end, you might still want to get professional assistance, but if you have a few different people from different sources telling you the same thing, at least you have a somewhat educated place to start.
If you want to try to target a more specific answer, here is a helpful list from Lifehacker of other ways to find answers online besides Google. Some of them are well-known like Twitter (but did you know how to crowd source on it?) and others are more obscure, yet effective, like Aardvark.
Crowdsourcing on LinkedIn
I’m getting more and more as a return on investment of time on LinkedIn, sometimes by answering questions. This time, I decided to take a crack at doing the asking.
I got stuck trying to figure out how to best manage a client’s Google AdWords campaign. I did some research on my favorite marketing blogs, but I couldn’t find a good model to follow for my target industry specifically. It was time to ask a real human, and one of the great things about LinkedIn is that the response is tied to a whole profile, unlike an anonymous poster on a site like WikiAnswers.
Since I have a lot of connections on LinkedIn who are internet marketing experts, I submitted a question, sending it to my connections, and the wider internet marketing audience. Within one hour I had two great answers, and within a few more hours I had six answers from industry experts with years of experience. Not only did they impart helpful advice, they also built off of each other’s suggestions, because I wasn’t asking in isolation, but rather, as part of a forum.
I could have also posted the question on my profile in a status update or in an industry group. There are lots of ways to ask questions and receive support on LinkedIn.
At first I was reluctant to post my question. Maybe others would think I’m an amateur, I thought. But then I just chilled out. You don’t get help until you ask, and if you don’t have an opportunity to learn, then you make one. It’s my duty to find the best solution for my client, pride be damned.
I took the suggestions that I received from professionals I had never met before, applied it to articles and blog posts that I read, and came up with a plan of action that I sent to my client the following day. I went from zero to hero with a little help from my new friends. As an added bonus, one of the people I connected with and I realized that we might be able to develop a working partnership! You never know where a new contact can take you.
How to Ask a Question on LinkedIn
Target millions of professionals on how to get something done! Here is a short video I made on how to ask a question on LinkedIn:
Your Turn to Answer!
I encourage you to demonstrate your knowledge in your area of expertise by answering some questions and give back to the community. Aside from the good karma of helping someone else out – how would you like it if no one answered your question? – helping out someone else, particularly someone in a related industry, is a great way to get your name and brand out there. Where appropriate, it can also open up opportunities for pitches.