I’m one in 300.000 plus giving back to communities around the globe today on IBM’s 100th Birthday for the IBM Centennial Day of Service. I love giving back! The event today was sponsored by Ginni Rometty and I invited all the women from IBM’s Super Women’s group!
The event I was at was done with the WEDC. The Women’s Enterprise Development Center, WEDC, is a not-for-profit microenterprise development program, formed in 1997 to help women achieve economic self-sufficiency through small business development. IBM is partnering with WEDC to help small business owners, most of who are minority and economically disadvantaged women, in a “speed mentoring” session. We’re seeking IBM volunteers with different areas of expertise to act as mentors.
Speed mentoring provides small business owners with an opportunity to gain business knowledge from professionals like you through brief interactions with several IBM volunteers in 60-90 minute time slots.
I mentored three great women! The owner of a jewelry design business — KMC Designs; the owner of a Social Reputation Management Company – WriteMinds, and a realtor who specializes in an astrology newsletter.
The three top questions these women entrepreneurs asked me were:
1) What’s the value of my business being on Facebook or Twitter? I went through 2 great stories — Richard Scott Salon, my salon in Westchester County who uses Facebook to market his business and does not do any more advertising and hasn’t for 1.5 years! http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Richard-Scott-Salon-and-Day-Spa/54521034706
The value that social brings a small company is the feel of a large company. It equalizes the playing field! That’s why small businesses doubled their investment in social for marketing in 2010. 50% of Small Businesses Say Lead Generation is Biggest Benefit of Social Networking.
2) Is my value proposition right? This question is the real meat. In each of the mentoring sessions, we talked through product positioning. For instance, for the jewelry, we talked about the value proposition of jewelry being “hand made” (perhaps a video showing how it is made on Facebook?) where the inspiration comes from (“nature and outdoor experiences”) and the uniqueness! The busines WriteMinds is really about Reputation manager but has been struggling positioning around content management. Reputation management is more opportunity, sexier, and more of what she really does!
3) How do I start if I am not tech savvy? With all the women, we talked about easy ways to get started. Using WordPress for blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn classes to get familar quickly, and the important of learning Google Analytics even if you are not technical. We also talked about hiring a web designer as well as an option. In all cases, I recommended looking at something like Constant Contact as well. We also talked about Search Engine Optimization — SEO, and how a web designer could help you do that optimization.
This is an ongoing relationship for 100 days! I’ll keep you posted and small business owners, what advice would you give ??