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The Entrepreneur’s Corner

Social media starting points
I am astounded by how many businesses today, both small and large, underutilize social networking sites such as Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. While these sites get so much traffic, many entrepreneurs, business people and companies feel social networking is not important enough for them to engage in.

While the media hypes the millions of people on these social networks, many small businesses say their focus is on the customer base in their community. Still, the numbers still range in hundreds of thousands.

We have seen clients get customers, grow their business, and even get a quarter of a million dollar investment from a college buddy they haven’t talked to in 20 years!

Here are some significant facts beyond the number of users: the average social user has 195 friends; 77 percent of internet users read blogs; the typical Linkedin user is 41 years of age with $110K income; more than a third of the 190 million Twitter account users access via their mobile phone; the average Facebook user spends more than 7 hours a month on the site, which was the most-visited website in the U.S. last year, beating out Google. (Facts from Nielsen, Quantcast, Tech Crunch and Online Media Gazette)

Did you know 78 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations?

What does this mean to a business? Your friends and customers are online and engaging. If the best marketing is word-of-mouth, then online social networks are word-of-mouth on steroids.

Here are some simple ways to get started.

1. Start a blog – Blogs are simple to create these days. Blogger, Typepad and Wordpress are popular free sites to start with. Start with tips and how-to’s. Avoid directly selling. If you have good content, readers will comment and engage you.

2. Sign up on Linkedin – Invite your trusted relationships, both past and present. Give recommendations to others, and often your customers and colleagues will reciprocate. This is the online office place. Keep it professional.

3. Create a Facebook Business Page – It is always a good idea to be social here. If Linkedin is the office, then Facebook is more of the backyard BBQ. Mention ties to the community, post relevant articles to your industry, clients and engage your fans. More than any other social network, direct selling is really frown upon. Think of the guy who comes to a BBQ passing out their business card as they introduce themselves.

4. Sign up for Twitter – While often called the party, Twitter to me is the convention. You only have 140 characters per tweet, so tweets should add value. Share your know-how, articles and echo others by retweeting them with .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Create an account and start following people in your industry, influencers in your community by using search.twitter.com.

If all else fails, remember! it’s about building relationships. If you wouldn’t say it offline, you may reconsider about saying it online. How would you conduct yourself at the office, BBQ or convention?

Nhat Pham is a social media strategist, technology advisor, author, speaker and owner of Successwerks in Richmond. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or @NhatPham on Twitter.
Community

Celebrating 106 years

Former Sandston resident Mildred Taylor celebrated her 106th birthday Aug. 9. Taylor, who now lives in Powhatan, is still a member of Sandston Baptist Church. She was visited the day after her birthday by several members of the church, who played for her a recording of the entire church membership singing happy birthday to her during worship. > Read more.

YMCA breaks ground for aquatic center

YMCA officials gathered last week to break ground on the new Tommy J. West Aquatic Center at the Shady Grove Family YMCA on Nuckols Road. The center, which will featured 7,600 square feet of competitive and recreational space, including water slides, play areas for children and warmer water for those with physical limitations, is the fourth phase of a $4 million expansion at the facility. West was president and CEO of Capital Interior Contractors and a founding member of the Central Virginia Region of the Virginia Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. > Read more.

Rotary donates to ‘Bright Beginnings’

The Sandston Rotary Club recently donated $1,000 to the Sandston YMCA for its Bright Beginnings program, which helps provide children in need with school supplies for the new school year. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Bottoms up

Short Pump brewery offers more than just beer
I am still (happily) thinking about my entire experience at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery last week. Knowing nothing about this new brewery out of Denver, I was leery of brew-pub in the heart of Short Pump Town Center – this is not what I’d usually think of as a perfect fit, and yet, it was.

The restaurant and craft brewery opened in early June and features 10 beers made by female brewmaster Becky Hammond (pictured). This is the restaurant’s second location in Virginia; the first is in Arlington. Behind glass walls, customers watched the beer brewing in massive steel barrels. For our up-and-coming beer region, it makes sense that Short Pump would jump on board.

As I walked up to the back of the mall near the comedy club, I was taken aback by what I saw: at the top of the stairs was an overflowing restaurant with outdoor seating, large umbrellas and dangling outdoor lights. > Read more.

Cultural Arts Center announces 2014 fall class schedule

The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen is now registering participants for its fall 2014 schedule of classes.

The center will offer more than 100 classes for children and adults, covering topicssuch as culinary arts, fiber arts, visual and performance arts and more. Instruction is structured to appeal to a wide range of abilities, from beginners to experts of all ages. Class sizes are kept small to ensure maximum benefit for participants with generally no more than 15 students. > Read more.

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