A Sales Story: An Inadvertent Lesson In Crowdsourcing 

Many moons ago I was a Regional Sales Manager based in Atlanta. There was another RSM named Ed that occupied the cubicle next to mine. We both spent eighty percent of our time out of the office in our respective territories, so we were only in the office at the same time two or three times a month. 

One afternoon, I could hear Ed on the phone next door to me, and I could hear him getting more and more exasperated as the call went on. He finally hung up, wheeled his chair back around the divider so he could talk to me and we had the following conversation.

Ed, “I have been searching for the key guy for our products at IBM. I have been looking for him for months now.” 

(this was pre-LinkedIn of course, and actually pre-Internet. You had to do everything by phone and networking)

“So I was just talking with your brother.” 

(my brother was a product manager at our offices in Toronto)

“And it turns out that your brother knew who the key guy was all this time!” 

Me, “You mean Henry Steinbecker?” 

Ed, “WHAT? YOU KNOW WHO HE WAS TOO?” 

Me, “Well yeah. He’s in their offices in RTP, off Six Forks Road. I went to see him back when I was selling our catalog products. I think it was maybe two years ago. Want his phone number?”

At this point Ed’s face turned a rather alarming shade of red, and he proceeded to use a lot of words I am quite sure his mother did not teach him. 

But here’s the thing. The information Ed so badly wanted – for months – was four feet away. All he had to do was mention it to me. 

So what does Ed’s predicament thirty years ago have to do with us and LinkedIn? Just this: with LinkedIn you have two huge avenues to crowdsource for help with your problems. The first is your connections. Your connections are a searchable database. Anything you need help with, information on, or opinions about, can likely be found among your connections. I have asked my connections for advice on tools, ideas, approaches, you name it. And I am happy to share my experience and knowledge back with them. This avenue in particular would have saved my colleague Ed a lot of time and trouble.

The second avenue is, well, all of LinkedIn. If you are searching for a new CRM to use, why not put together a post about what you are doing and what you need and publish it on LinkedIn? Yes, you will get a pile of salespeople, but you will also get a lot of good opinions, advice and you may meet some people that are worth connecting with.

Crowdsourcing: An under utilized – but valuable – use for LinkedIn