I’ve done it once and I plan to do it again.

I use Flickr to hire people for my projects. I needed some website art for a project I’m doing, and though I am capable of doing my own art, I realized that there were people who were far more talented than me. So, I looked around my 50 or so Flickr contacts and picked Sonya to do the illustrations for my website and the iTunes art, etc.

And then it struck me that I would re-use this model. Now, I’ve got feelers out to a photographer who specializes in really cool setups using dolls and miniatures to build really hilarious settings to photograph.

Why WOULDN’T you use Flickr as a hiring platform? In fact, why not use Flickr as part of someone’s background search for jobs? I’m stealing this idea from Mitch Joel of Twist Image, who talked about it on the New Comm Road podcast. He said he’d want to read someone’s blog more than their resume.

The Hack

Start looking at “social networking” and “social software” sites as prospects for your projects, as customers for your products, as networkers for things you’re passionate about and working on. Look beyond the shape and premise of the site into what the content of the site means to things you’re doing.

MySpace has netted me more connections and interesting opportunities than LinkedIN (which is a neat site, but I’ve yet to have any significant business experience from it).

Some tips?

  • Build profiles such that people know what you’re interested in OUTSIDE of that site’s basic premise- For instance, on my Flickr profile, I think I mention that I’m starting an audio and video podcasting company.
  • Write strong profiles with contact information- Make sure people have ways to reach you that don’t require them to use the on-board messaging systems of most social networks.
  • Connect with connectors- Even if someone’s got something going that’s not directly related to what you’re doing, you never know when they will connect with someone who you’d love to get in touch with.
  • Share the love- Make sure you ask people on the site what you can do for them, who they need for clients, what they’re hoping to get going? It’s nice to share.
  • Link, link, link- Use your blog as a platform to link people together. Share people’s pet projects on your site, and show others how to reach them. Sharing the audience brings people back to your projects.
  • Grow your community- If you’re writing social software, or running a group, or developing a network, make ways for people to grow the community themselves. Have people share the passion and give them a way to participate. Look at Digg. They’ve made that the baseline of the project.

There are dozens of sites and hundreds of stories on how people have found each other through social networking and social software online. The trick for you becomes finding a way to turn that into opportunities, and a way for you to help others. Have you had an experience like this that you’d like to share?

– Chris Brogan is working this angle heavily at Grasshopper New Media, where he’s reaching out to podcasters, bloggers, and other new media enthusiasts every day. He blogs at [chrisbrogan.com].

Love this article?