Guest post from Marissa Mitrovich, director, public policy and corporate responsibility for Verizon. Follow @mpmitrovich on Twitter.
(photo taken with her smartphone: Marissa with Marie Johns, Deputy Administrator of the US Small Business Administration)
Earlier this month, I attended a very powerful event: The White House Business Council and Small Business Administration hosted the Urban Economic Forum at Barnard College, a women’s college, in New York City. The venue was thoughtfully selected, as the entire day was dedicated to women.
The Urban Economic Forum was open to the public and was created out of the need and desire of women entrepreneurs seeking a place they could come together to find resources for their businesses and meet other women entrepreneurs. This event was the first event of a series of eight to take place in other cities nationwide. It hailed an impressive number of attendees, over 400 women! Special guests included Arianna Huffington, columnist and co-founder of The Huffington Post; Susan Sobbott, the president of American Express OPEN; and even Senior Advisor to the President of the United States Valerie Jarrett were in attendance to speak to this dynamic and diverse group and offer advice.
While there were many invaluable pieces of advice offered to women throughout the day. One of the key takeaways – and the advice that was repeated throughout the day by multiple people, but first mentioned in the morning by Susan Lyne, Chairman of Gilt Groupe Inc., an e-commerce company that pioneered “flash sales.” She told the women in the room that they must embrace technology.
Susan indicated that technology was going to allow women to maximize the reach of their business, increase their efficiency, and help them cut costs.
As women in the room were tweeting all day using the hashtag #WHEconForum and #womenentrepreneurs – this statement by Susan resonated true. These women, myself included, were instantly building a large network and maximizing our reach…with technology.
According to Deputy SBA Administrator Marie Johns, “Today it’s about 30% - and women-owned businesses are growing at a rate of more than twice that of b...” Certainly this growth is going to require all of the benefits Susan Lyne mentioned that technology will allow for. As an employee of Verizon, I am familiar with the resources available to allow for this efficiency after all, Verizon has the best network and the fastest Internet speeds.
I personally left this event moved by this experience, the strength and energy of the women in the room, and happy that I would be able to keep up with these women I met with the use of a couple small symbols “@” and a “#” – my smartphone made the connection!
Editor’s note: Are you embracing technology?
If you are a small business owner, are you using technology to connect with your customers? If not, take action today! Don’t be one of the 40% of small businesses that don’t have a website. Your business needs to be found. Verizon offers an easy do-it-yourself website building software, click here for more info. You can click here to learn about our latest promotional solution of voice and broadband or click here if you already have services with us and want to add wireless service. If you need tips to shop for a tablet click here or click here to learn how you can take payment anywhere… even on the go. Of course, if you need additional assistance, such as how to use Facebook to find customers, watch one of the free webinars presented by the Verizon Small Business Center. (Click here to go to the Verizon Small Business channel or visit http://www.brighttalk.com/channel/6255).
Guest post from Marcia O’Toole, manager of the Verizon Small Business Center.
In a recent analysis conducted by Compass Intelligence in 3Q 2011 Verizon once again ranked highest among leading small business portals. This is the fourth consecutive quarter where the Verizon Small Business Center was judged to offer the best online experience for small business owners.
For more information on this report click here (or go tohttp://bit.ly/sYNmWM). Strengths of the Verizon Small Business Center cited were its “elegant, consistent design; engaging content; self-learn training; and business-specific news.”
The report continued with, “a user is spoilt with choice.” Additionally, the report praised Verizon for its special offers prominently displayed on the main page, clearly noting top features and prices. The comparison charts and the solution finder features were also praised. With regard to support, Verizon was one of the most capable, offering a number of options to small business customers – including self-serve knowledge base, user tutorials and click to chat options.
Forty-nine (49) top sites were evaluated on more than 20 portal capabilities and ranked on their ability to provide a relevant online experience to small business decision-makers. The analysis considered online learning, site design and messaging, as well as ecommerce capabilities, among other attributes. All portals had to tailor specifically to decision-makers in small businesses (<100 employees) to be considered for this ranking. The ratings and rankings were based on Compass Intelligence’s monthly research on small business decision-makers.
If you are a frequent visitor to the Verizon Small Business Center please click here(and click on “Site Feedback”) to complete an online survey and give us your feedback – it’s the only way, we’ll improve and make the experience even better for you. Of course, feel free leave your comments below.
Thanks in advance for your feedback!
Guest post from Marcia O’Toole, manager of the Verizon Small Business Center.
During the holiday season, many small businesses experience a reduction in work or planned vacations. This is a great time to launch or update your professional online profiles, network with new and old colleagues, and get updated on your field.
If you haven’t joined, check out Verizon Professional Networking, launched in April 2010, this community recently reached more than 10,000 subscribers. Developed as part of Verizon’s Small Business Center website, this powerful resource connects thousands of business professionals in a diverse number of industries, including finance, manufacturing, and technology, who want to:
- Network with other industry professionals;
- Create and search business profiles;
- Participate in forums, polls, and more.
Registered users are also able to personalize their home pages. The Verizon Professional Networking community is open to everyone – even non-Verizon customers. This is a great viral community to find other small business owners or professionals… perhaps you need the services of an accountant, or want to team up with a similar business to buy in bulk or want to barter services… this is a free platform for you to network.
Additionally, Verizon’s Professional Networking area and Small Business Center Forums provide answers to the challenges and questions faced in starting and running a small business. Some of the discussions included in the Verizon forums are:
- Starting a Small Business
- Small Business Management
- Small Business Advertising & Marketing
- Find Small Business Resources
Sharing expertise with others in the community is not just a way to assist someone else, but to build credibility and develop business relationships. If you seek additional insights to help you run your business better check out some of the free resources we offer including past blog posts from small business experts and the free webinars brought to you from Verizon.
So, if you haven’t joined the professional networking community, sign up – it’s free! If you are a member and haven’t updated your profile lately or networked with others, take a little time to do that. A few minutes invested can position you for a progressive year ahead!
Click to register or sign into Verizon Professional Networking.
Have a Happy New Year from the Verizon Small Business Center team!