Social media (twitter) tactics for social entrepreneurs

Not claiming I had anything to do with this. Kudos to Chad Norman at Blackbaud for what is a great slideshow of social media tactics (and tools) that non-profit organisations, or mission-driven organisations, can use. If you're wondering why/how twitter, facebook et al could be important and how to start, here you go.

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Top 10 podcasts for social entrepreneurs

Following on the back of the top 10 blogs for social entrepreneurs, I thought I might add to that with some podcast links. I've been travelling a bit of late (currently on my way to Leeds) which, in addition to the commute, has meant a fair amount of podcast listening. I'm retreading a bit of previous ground here (see Podcasts + Pendolinos, Recent Social Enterprise podcasting, and Podcasts and  Audio Links), but there have been some decent additions to some old favourites….so here goes:

1) First up has to be Peter Day's World of Business which is consistently interesting about all aspects of business. And, when you consider that the last three episodes have featured employee-ownership, biofuels and entrepreneurship advice, it is also often of considerable relevance to social entrepreneurs

2) More specifically of this world is Social Innovation Conversations which is a US-based podcast affiliated to Stanford Social Innovation Review; mostly it is downloadable episodes of panels / speeches from events, but they are usually high quality people talking about relevant issues, so definitely worth a look through the archive

3) Evan Davis is best known for hosting Dragon's Den here, but I think his Bottom Line radio programme is great. Simple format (3 CEOs, 3 different companies, discussing few specific topics) and doesn't outstay its welcome. Has featured Divine Chocolate's Sophi Tranchell and Anne MacCaig of CafeDIrect previously.

4) SmallBizPod is the leading small business specific podcast, and Alex Bellinger does a terrific job with it, meeting entrepreneurs and raising issues that you don't find elsewhere. You can find a social enterprise specific section on the website with interviews from events and leading social entrepreneurs.

5) Echoing Green has been supporting social entrepreneurs for 20 years or so, and is one of the few support organisations to have ventured into podcasting. Its Be Bold podcast is about careers and is obviously pretty US-centric, but there's some good stuff here regardless: about people's motivations, about supporting oneself, about personal development and so forth.

6) Staying in the US, PRI do an occasional social entrepreneurship podcast, usually focused on international development work, and usually quite brief; but decent-enough

7) For a more cerebral take, and cutting-edge business thinking, try HBR's IdeaCast. Occasionally tiresome when it's just Harvard authors plugging Harvard books, but it's a good place for prompting new thinking and new ideas.

8) I've recently got into the Business podcast from the Guardian, which is pretty good + snappy about current business events + news; occasionally features ClearlySo supremo Rod Schwartz as well….

9) Some decent enough bitesize intro podcasts from Enterprising Non-profits in Canada (planning, value, what is social enterprise etc)

10) Brand new is the Ashoka Tech podcast, which has started with an episode on World Toilet Day (insert joke about starting at the bottom here….); bodes well, but too early to tell: one to keep an eye on.


And if that's not enough for you, see our bookmarks for more, or check out the 100 best small business podcasts, although if you;ve got time to listen to all of those, then the business is probably going down the pan :0)

Working up the courage / energy to do twitter lists (twists?) at some point soon….

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Networking advice + tips for (and from) social entrepreneurs

So it's Global Entrepreneurship Week this week. And it's a week chock full of events, press releases, statistics and more. Our own contribution came this morning with a live videoconference between SSE students in London and Sydney, using CISCO's Telepresence system in their offices. Given where we were (the world leader in networks) and what we were doing (connecting  / learning / sharing), the theme of the dialogue was about networking: advice, tips, stories and thoughts about the importance of it for social entrepreneurs. I was excited about that, and about using the system they use in 24 :0)

We had half a dozen social entrepreneurs in each city, from a range of backgrounds and working on a range of different projects (hello Wale, Junior, Ryan, Saritha, Farah, Janine, Nikki, Tracey, Nicole, Jason; see London and Sydney programmes for more details). They heard first from foremost Australian social entrepreneur Steve Lawrence (now working as Executive Officer at ASIX, who helped set up the event today) on his tips and learning and feelings about networking. Steve had some great contributions, including:

– there are "lovers" and "tourists" in business, and lovers are the ones who are passionate about it, will follow up and make the most of connections

– that he tends to ask questions, to help discover what matters to the other person and find what they're passionate aboute

– that he always writes something about the person / conversation on the business card when he gets it (particularly important at events where you come away with a stack)

The social entrepreneurs from both sides then shared their thoughts and experiences, which covered a lot of interesting ground. This included the importance of creating authentic connections (and being authentic in your interactions), of following-up (and being purposeful in your networking), and on the need (at times) to be persistent when it seems worth it. There was also the point that generosity to others, such as connecting two other people at an event, normally repays itself (in a good karma kind of way). There was also the excellent advice to be responsive and thankful in your interactions.

The conversation moved on to authenticity, and the genuineness of networking. Understanding people's passions requires to be genuinely interested and on a positive motivation…not smiling and waving while you look over the person's shoulder for someone more important. There is a difference, it was said, between a coffee-fuelled speedy effort to buttonhole people, and an authentic, 'whole-person' conversation over tea. One quote in this context was "be yourself and you will meet the people who are right for you". There were further key points about being concise and relevant (you can be genuine, but also be concise in what you say): being able to get across what you need to swiftly is crucial. 

The final bit of the conversation focused on cultural differences, and how it was important to be respectful and knowledgeable of practice and custom internationally. A couple of the social entrepreneurs, who both work overseas, felt that this was crucial to success for their project, be that about religion, belief systems, customs, language or about devolving and delegating power to ensure the project sustains. The linguistic challenge was also seen in social entrepreneurship more generally, with jargon and vocabulary sometimes being a barrier to progress and good contacts being built (one felt that social entrepreneurs themselves were bridgers and translators in effect, between communities and the corporate / estbalished third sector world).

There was also an interesting insight into working with Aboriginal communities, and the amount of sign language (hand signals, eyebrow raising etc) that is used to communicate. Which brought us back to face-to-face vs. online, with the general consensus that online was useful, but couldn't replace face-to-face (which was reinforced by the very technology we were using) in terms of achieving authentic, trusted relationships. The kind of relationships on which social entrepreneurs thrive. 

We hope to have the video up soon, and thanks again to Martin and the team at CISCO for making it happen. What was exciting to me was to see the culture of openness and honesty reflected in both groups of social entrepreneurs, and to be running an event where learning and knowledge were being shared witha  purpose, rather than being just a launch or talking shop.

The Anglo-Australian top 10 networking tips for social entrepreneurs:

  1. Be authentic and genuine
  2. Bring your whole person
  3. Be generous to others (it will repay)
  4. Ask questions and understand the other person
  5. Be patient and (as appropriate) persistent
  6. Always follow-up: make the most of the contacts you make
  7. Be respectful and attentive
  8. Use online networks to broker or bed down relationships, but not to replace face-to-face
  9. Be honest and open, and that will be mirrored
  10. Be concise and relevant

The top 5 quotes from this morning's event

  1. "If you're generous to other people, it repays. I think it's a universal law" – Junior
  2. "Sometimes you feel like the ugly one at a speed-dating event" – Ryan
  3. "A night on the turps" or "Hit the turps" (Australian colloquial: to get drunk) – Jason (et al)
  4. "You don't go in playing golf, you go in playing ultimate wrestling" – Nikki
  5. "You have to kiss a lot of frogs before a prince comes along" – Saritha (via Colin Crooks)

[btw, on the same subject, you can check out SSE CEO Alastair Wilson in the recent issue of Social Enterprise Magazine, and I also very much liked this post on The Key to Powerful Relationships]

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Revamped Social Enterprise Ambassadors Website!

Final logo_full colour Delighted to see the launch of the re-designed Social Enterprise Ambassadors site, designed by the wonderful team over at Webstars LTD. As part of a rebrand and renewal of the ambassadors programme, SEC and SSE have worked closely together to create a new web portal for the OTS-funded initiative, now in its third year. It's always fun being involved in something like this from 'soup to nuts' as it were…from writing the brief onwards. Kudos to Pauline (and Vicky) at SEC for sorting out the photos and much of the content more recently.

The redesigned site features a lot of interactive content, including photos, videos and some extensive bios of the ambassadors. For instance, check out long-time SSE friend + expert witness Craig Dearden-Phillips, SSE Fellows Saeeda Ahmed and Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa, and Tim Campbell, who came to SSE earlier this year for a fellowship session on Money and remains a close friend to us here in Bethnal Green.

Some other interesting features that might be worth checking out:
– Looking for an ambassador near you? Check out the Ambassador Locations
– The ambassadors now focus more closely on specific audiences, Young People, Business & Finance, Public Services
– Want the inside scoop? The ambassadors are avid bloggers and tweet like singing birds

Really great to see this site go up and to have worked closely with the ambassadors (thanks to Sophi, Peter, Julie, et al), who have been very helpful and supportive through this process and quick turnaround. Am looking forward to the programme making a large impact on the different target groups for the various campaigns in the coming year

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Social media for social impact (for social entrepreneurs)

A new handbook was released yesterday called Social By Social which is a great and practical guide to using new technologies to deliver social impact. I'd thoroughly recommend having a look at the book online, or ordering a copy for you own use. Check out especially the Pioneers section, which includes two SSE Fellows, Nathalie McDermott (SavvyChavvy) and Paul Hodgkin (Patient Opinion), and the essential tools, resources, and what this means for you sections. Congratulations to all involved, especially SSE Fellow Andy Gibson and supporter David Wilcox: I think it's a great and useful resource.

In the latter, I've written the "what this means for social entrepreneurs" section. I've posted this before, but thought I would re-post again to celebrate the launch, to celebrate its use of a creative commons license, and for the various new followers / subscribers of late. Enjoy….all thoughts + links + comments most welcome.

Social media for social entrepreneurs

"While entrepreneurs in the business sector identify untapped commercial markets, and gather together the resources to break into those markets for profit, social entrepreneurs use the same skills to different effect. For social entrepreneurs, untapped markets are people or communities in need, who haven't been reached by other initiatives. But while they may read from a different (triple) bottom line, social and business entrepreneurs have a lot in common. They build something out of nothing. They are ambitious to achieve. They marshal resources to meet their needs. They are constantly creative. And they are not afraid to make mistakes.

The marshalling of resources is particularly important in this context, as start-up and fledgling social entrepreneurs often have little spare money (or money at all) for key parts of their work, namely marketing, promotions, communications, fundraising, events organisation, and community-outreach. This is where the development of web 2.0-type tools is playing such a significant role; where two or three years ago, we would get the question “do you know someone cheap who designs good websites?”, the questions now tend to be “what’s a blog and how do I start one?” or “should I pay for this or is the free version OK?”. The costs of podcasting, blogging, uploading video, starting an online network, promoting your project on Facebook or specialised networks like UnLtdWorld, fundraising online etc have fallen so far as to completely democratise it: for social entrepreneurs now, the big question is no longer “what can we afford?” but “what should we use?” and “how do you use it best?” In some cases, SSE Fellows (like Nathalie McDermott of OnRoadMedia or Jude Habib of SoundDelivery) take this a step further and make it their mission to empower communities / other organisations to speak up or better achieve using new tech.

Our message to them is a simple one: work out what you want to achieve and then work out whether technology can play a part in helping do it. It can be all too tempting amidst a rash of “twitter is the cure to all ills” headlines to leap in, waste time and lose focus. But if building a community of like-minded people who support and engage with their idea is important to moving it forward (and those people can be found online), then fire away using Facebook groups, twitter, blogs and whatever is most appropriate. Such tools are often a cost-effective means to an important end: building a following around an idea or a new enterprise. Tools such as blogs and twitter also allow for a more direct form of communication that, when done with consistency and authenticity, will better engage and inform that following. That builds trust, credibility and loyalty to an organisation in the medium to long term.

What is particularly interesting for social entrepreneurs in this space is that tools like Twitter and Facebook have blurred the line between the personal and the organisational, between the life and the work. But this is already the case for social entrepreneurs in many cases, so fits naturally with the way they are and the way they operate. Alongside the fact that networking is key to their success (particularly when they can feel isolated and disillusioned on their journey), it’s clear why such tools can be not only useful organisationally (for communications, community-building etc) but also individually (to make contacts, build relationships, find support, bookmark sites of interest etc).

However, whilst not wishing to end in Luddite fashion, it’s important that we also remember that many social entrepreneurs work in real, geographical communities that can’t be reached online; that e-mail remains the primary communication tool for the vast majority; that ‘slacktivism’ will tend to reinforce the idea that people can solve problems with a click of a mouse (and keep a healthy distance from all that nasty poverty and disadvantage); that online approaches need to be measured for their social impact if resources are put into them that could go elsewhere; that Facebook status updates aren’t a substitute for meeting people face-to-face; and that doing things is more important than talking about doing things.

Ultimately, social media tools provide amazing opportunities and resources to facilitate change, to network effectively, to communicate directly, to fundraise innovatively, and to build communities swiftly. But in all but a very small minority of cases for social entrepreneurs, they are means to an end, not the end in themselves."

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