Have you attended a conference and wondered why they chose the speakers they did? Yeah, me too. That’s why Grant and I were very intentional on our choices of who to invite to speak to small businesses in rural America at www.smallbizsocialmediasummit.com.
We chose our speakers because we know them. One of the basic tenants in social media for small business (and for anyone really) is to build a relationship first.
Becky McCray does her chores on the ranch before she heads into the liquor store she owns. That’s multitasking rural America understands.
Cody Heitschmidt shovels snow in front of the Hall he manages, gets his kids off to school, stops for coffee at the corner coffee store – before he goes to work.
Jay Ehret has spoken to small businesses and digs in up to his elbows – because he believes in the small business owner. He is one! He’s a wine lover, poker player and Christian missionary.
Kim Dushinski dug in her heels, learned all there was about mobile marketing, wrote a book and made it affordable to everyone. All while taking care of her kid and earning a living.
George Krueger and MaryLynn Foster are newlyweds who work in their local community strengthening small businesses. How many presentations have they done for no pay or little pay? I don’t know, I stopped counting. They also have their own studio to maintain and create an income with.
Justin Levy never sleeps. He’s a young man who is committed to bringing excitement and possibility to all he meets.
Grant Griffiths and I both know what it’s like to be overlooked by your local community. Both of us are actively working to create our name in our areas and continue to expand our networks. It’s what almost every small business does.
I write this to emphasize how serious we are about providing value to our attendees from people who are down in the front lines doing the deal.
Our small business attendees are not looking for brand ambassadors. They’ve got them. We’re small and local – everyone at home loves us. They are looking for social media practices they can take home and put right into practice. They are looking for peer mentors. They are looking to talk to other business owners and connect with our speakers.
They are NOT looking for the feeling of power and importance. They want to connect to more customers and build relationships. They don’t need to intelligently rocket traffic and get leads. They want to connect to more customers and build relationships. Our speakers address their needs.
It is very important to us to have speakers who could resonate with the small business market. You’ll also notice that almost all of the above are from the Midwest area of the United States. That was intentional as well. Too often rural America is overlooked at best and not taken seriously at worst. We aim to change that.
History of my thinking: this post was written in response to a young man from California who wants to speak at our conference. About creating brand experiences for our attendees. He’s been in business for 1.5 years – and at a company that provides social media solutions. One of his blog posts was about how he’s never had a mentor and doesn’t need one. It’s pretty obvious he didn’t do his due diligence.