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My Experience with Building Her Business 2.0 and WIN: a Fantastic Citywide Event

by Jill Foster on July 6, 2009

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Guest post by Sibyl Edwards, regular guest contributor to Women Grow Business. Sibyl works as a digital designer and strategist based in Washington, DC. She has many years of experience in interactive design, identity branding, and digital strategy for businesses and non-profits; Sibyl can be reached at www.twitter.com/saedwards.

The makings of an entrepreneur…and dinner
Some of the regular readers of WomenGrowBusiness.com may have read my last post What Are They ON?! Entrepreneurs and Their Mindset. The post discussed what makes the “entrepreneurial attitude”. In a desire to learn even more about what makes some people successful entrepreneurs, my WIN Tech Network co-chair Nina M. Schwartz and I had the opportunity to organize a dinner event for Women Opening Doors for Women around the theme of “Building Her Business 2.0”.

Women Open Doors for Women (WODW) is an annual event thrown by Women’s Information Network. WODW consists of two parts: a networking reception, followed by 35 simultaneous dinner parties at private homes and businesses throughout the DC area.

WODW is a very popular annual DC networking event.
It is a great opportunity for women to come together, network and meet others within a very informal environment.

Our dinner event, Building Her Business 2.0, was an opportunity to discuss how women entrepreneurs can use current social-based technologies and web applications to successfully run and grow their businesses.

Both Nina and I wanted to have speakers to cover the gamut from social media experts, financing, marketing, branding and communications. Our speakers included the founder/editor of the WomenGrowBusiness.com blog Jill Foster, Social Media expert and activist Shireen Mitchell, Anca Novacovici founder of Eco-Coach and Roz Lemieux, online organizing expert and co-founder of Fission Strategy. Roz also served as hostess for the event and held the dinner at her home in Northwest DC.

All walks of life (and cous cous)
There were about 16 women attending (not counting the organizers and speakers) from all walks of life. Some worked for companies with the hope of starting their own businesses, others already had business but wanted to know how they can use social media to improve their business. After networking over a great meal of grilled burgers and cous cous by Roz and her partner Clay, everyone sat down in Roz’s living room to listen to the speakers.

Success, social media tools and Mashable
The evening began with Jill Foster discussing what makes a successful women entrepreneur followed with Shireen Mitchell sharing ideas on how women can utilize tools such as Twitter to promote their businesses. Anca Novacovici shared her experiences starting her consultation firm from the bottom up and Roz Lemieux gave great advice on online resources like virtual assistants. And Mashable’s list was brought up, recently compiled as a fantastic list of online tools for businesses.

Putting themselves out there
One of the highlights of the evening consisted of a four-way dialog between the speakers and the attendees, led by Shireen Mitchell, on the importance of women not being afraid to promote themselves in person and online. This touched on a little discussed topic among women – assertiveness without seeming too conceited. Shireen gave personal examples of the difficulty for women to “put themselves out there”. More than a few attendees nodded their heads in agreement and asked what can be done to correct the issue.

Self-assertion and your value proposition
Roz and Shireen suggested going to technology happy hours and events where entrepreneurs and start-ups present their services – plus being bold and “getting on stage” to talk about what you (and your business) have to offer. Jill suggested using online video as a great way to get your personal and business brand out to the masses. And Anca offered speaking at events to raise your profile.

The Building Her Business 2.0 dinner was a highly informative event with diverse, knowledgeable speakers. The only unfortunate thing about the evening was that there wasn’t enough time to answer everyone’s questions.

I’m sure there will be a Building Her Business 3.0 coming soon (wink)….

For more information here are some stats on women entrepreneurs:

  • 10.1 million firms are owned by women (75% or more), employing more than 13 million people, and generating $1.9 trillion in sales as of 2008.
  • Three quarters of all women-owned businesses are majority owned by women (51% or more), for a total of 7.2 million firms, employing 7.3 million people, and generating $1.1 trillion in sales.
  • Women-owned firms (50% or more) account for 40% of all privately held firms.
  • 1.9 million firms are majority-owned (51% or more) by women of color in the U.S.
  • These firms employ 1.2 million people and generate $165 billion in revenues annually.
  • One in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more is woman-owned.
  • 3% of all women-owned firms have revenues of $1 million or more compared with 6% of men-owned firms.

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