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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

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden raises admission $1

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s admission has increased by $1 across all categories. Admission is now $12 for adults; $11 for seniors ages 55 and older; and $8 for children ages 3–12. Admission remains free for children ages 3 and younger and for members.

The last price increase was in 2011, before the Garden consistently hosted Butterflies LIVE! (which is included with admission). > Read more.

Garden tails

The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.

Western Henrico Rotary helps fund Midwives For Haiti Jeep


Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.

The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.

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Entertainment

‘Top Chef’ finalist to open Willow Lawn restaurant

A finalist in the Bravo television show Top Chef is bringing one of his four restaurant chains to Henrico County.

Bryan Voltaggio, who was the runner-up of the sixth season of Top Chef, (finishing second to his brother, Michael) and his business partner, Hilda Staples, will open their third Family Meal restaurant, at Henrico's Willow Lawn shopping center. The restaurant is expected to open early next year. > Read more.

US Army Field Band to perform in Henrico Aug. 3

The United States Army Field Band will present a free public performance at Deep Run Park in Henrico on Sunday, Aug 3 at 3 p.m.

Members of the band are soldiers who also serve as “musical ambassadors of the Army” and perform for schools and communities nationwide.

The Concert Band will be performing along with the Soldiers’ Chorus. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Get up and dance – square dance, that is – with the Tuckahoe Square Dance Club tonight! More musical events this weekend include family-friendly karaoke at Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House, the United States Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus Concert and the Henrico Teen Theatre Company’s production of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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VCU Medical Center will present the seminar “Deep Brain Stimulation: Restoring Balance to Broken Circuits” at 5:30 p.m. at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, 1800 Lakeside Ave. Learn how deep brain… Full text

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