Crowdsourcing Project Results: Some lessons to be learned

crowd surfer
In January, I tried a unique way of finding a technician. Instead of giving money to large media companies that charge outrageous sums of money for tiny employment ads, we offered a free iPad or $500 to someone who referred themselves or another person to work for us. That was roughly equal to the cost of running an employment ad in the local paper. Yes, it is that expensive, yet these companies wonder why advertising is down…but I digress.

Typical of most crowdsourced projects like Kickstarter (or to an extent eBay which operates under the same principles), most of the action happens at either the beginning or the end. Little in the middle. Within a few days of announcing the project, I already had an interview with a technician. He didn’t make it through the evaluation process and then things were pretty much silent until the last week of January. I only received two actual resumes from the entire project, though the page had over 300 hits during the month of January.

After six months of actively searching to replace a technician who was moving out of the area, I was suddenly faced with dozens of qualified applicants. These applicants weren’t coming to us through the crowdsourced project. They didn’t mention the project nor did they know about it. Interesting!

My analysis: it’s all about the effort you put into it. Like joining a weight loss contest (see my experiences with Scale Down), the idea of a deadline and measurable results makes us most accountable as the deadline approaches. Personally, I found myself telling everyone and their sister by the end of the project. At the gym, at the restaurant, at the doctor’s office, you name it. I was telling everyone I was looking for a technician.

Knowing January 31st was approaching made me extremely outgoing and it paid off! I had a number of great people apply with me. As I mentioned, I already brought one on board and when he’s fully trained and ready to go, I’ll be looking for more. Guess it’s a Lawrence tradition to have your best performance at the very end?

The biggest takeaway from the crowdsourced project wasn’t the applicants, but rather the lessons and feedback I got from random people. I realized many things I was doing wrong with my hiring efforts. These weren’t big things, but rather the small nuisances that often are what make the difference between success and failure. I tweaked my ads as well as the venues I was telling others about it.

The best lesson I learned was from a great meeting with Wil Katz, director at the KU Small Business Development Center. If you don’t know about this free resources in Lawrence, you need to follow this link now. Will tends to ask the right questions rather than give you answers. I love that. What I realized from this meeting is that I tend to have good skills marketing and growing my business. Customers love what we do and I easily tell others about it. However, I wasn’t actively telling others about the fact that we were looking for technicians nor was I recruiting. I recruit potential clients on a daily basis by answering computer questions in person and online via social media. I’m always seeking out people and need and offering help. I’m not doing that with potential technicians and I need to start doing that. When I get great customer service somewhere, I need to ask “By the way , do you know anyone that works on computers that has your attitude towards customer service?” Good idea! Ultimately, I need to use the tools I’ve developed over the years to grow my client base and focus them on growing my applicants pool.

This just makes sense and fits into our overall philosophy here, so if you know someone that is great with people and computers (it’s always people first), tell them about us. We are always accepting applications and for the right person, we’ll be able to find them a position with us.

Thank you EVERYONE for the advise you’ve given me and the word of mouth buzz you created about us. I’m extremely grateful.

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