Women Entrepreneurs Talk Technology at Meridian

On August 7, 2012, Meridian hosted a roundtable discussion for a multi-regional delegation of 21 women entrepreneurs participating in the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). The discussion on “Using Technology and Innovation to Amplify Your Message and Mission,” was an opportunity for this group of entrepreneurs to engage directly with a group of media and technology experts, including Kate Ahern, Director, Social Innovation, The Case Foundation; Katie Dowd, Advisor for Innovation, U.S. Department of State (Moderator); Shana Glickfield, Partner, Beekeeper Group; Founder & Author of The DC Concierge blog; Kalsoom Lakhani, Founder & CEO, Invest2Innovate and Bonnie Shaw, Director of Strategy, iStrategyLabs; Organizer, Digital Divas Dinners. Ambassador Stuart Holliday, Meridian’s President and CEO, offered welcome remarks to the group before turning the floor over to moderator, Ms. Dowd.

Some of the key recommendations and “take-aways” from the discussion on how emerging entrepreneurs can effectively use social media to promote their businesses were as follows:

  1. No guts, no glory!
    You stand to lose more by NOT incorporating social media. Even if you are not well-acquainted with the technology, push yourself to try out the different platforms and see what works best for your organization.
  2. Be everywhere.
    While social media has grown tremendously in the past few years, there are parts of the world where the technology is still nascent. The key is to adopt a marketing plan that draws on mainstream methods, such as radio and SMS campaigns. Make sure your message is accessible to everyone, everywhere.
  3. Differentiate yourself.
    Communicate what makes you – your organization, your product, your brand – different from your competition. Always give a personal spin to your message.
  4. Social media is free like a puppy!
    A free puppy is never entirely free. While creating a Facebook or Twitter account is essentially free of cost, you will have to allot plenty of time managing your content, streamlining your social networks, and engaging your audience.
  5. Remember the rule of thirds.
    While using social media to promote your business, always divide your activity in to three equal parts: one, market yourself and your company; two, amplify others; and three, be present by engaging with your networks.
  6. Grow slowly and organically.
    Don’t measure your success by the number of Facebook fans or “retweets.” Take the time to build a loyal customer base, even if that means fewer “likes” on your page. It is important to be able to direct your online relationships to more enduring, offline ones.
  7. Go where people are already spending time.
    Engaging the right audience requires a thorough understanding of your customer base and/or networks. Profile your targeted customer to zero in on which social media platforms should you be utilizing.

Following the discussion, a reception provided the delegation with an opportunity to further engage and network with roundtable observers, speakers and participants.

Project summary

Women Entrepreneurs Talk Technology at Meridian | August 2012
Number of Visitors: 21
Impact Areas: Empowering Women and Girls, Entrepreneurship, Business and Trade
Program Areas: Global Leadership, Diplomacy
Partners: Public Sector, Private Sector
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