By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Business cards were traded over a light lunch at Convention Hall Thursday, during the Enid Women Entrepreneurs Inspire event.
The event, sponsored by Oklahoma State University Riata Center for Entrepreneurship, offered about 20 of Enid’s women entrepreneurs the chance to network and learn about social media marketing.
Cara Carson helped organize the WE Inspire networking session, the first of its kind in Enid.
In addition to her work at Encompass Financial Services and serving as president of Main Street Enid, Carson also is a graduate student at OSU, where she was introduced to the Riata Center and WE Inspire events.
When she heard the Riata Center was considering taking the WE Inspire events into regional cities, Carson and Main Street Enid went to work promoting Enid.
“We lobbied to bring one of these events to Enid,” Carson said. “As well as being a regional center between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, we are a growing community and we have a lot of new businesses. And, this is a great way to showcase Enid.”
Carson said the WE Inspire networking events, and Riata Center services in general, offer new business owners a valuable opportunity to build business connections.
“Everyone is so busy, that we often don’t take time to network with other entrepreneurs and build those connections,” Carson said. “It’s exciting to be in a place with like-minded people who also are starting a business, and you can be in a peer group at an event like this even if the other people are in a different industry.”
After lunch and networking time, a brief presentation was given by Angela Allmond, owner of Allographics and Design, an Oklahoma City-based web and social marketing design firm.
Allmond spoke to the attendees about how to maximize the impact of their social media marketing.
Allmond offered “Seven Savvy Social Strategies,” primarily focused on Facebook, but also applicable to sites such as Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
Allmond’s seven strategies included: building original content on your blog; using creative content in social media, and how to maximize exposure for social media posts; using “creative and fun” photos to market your business; how to use paid and promoted posts on Facebook to boost exposure; using polls and queries to build interaction; using Pinterest for business applications; and to share personal experiences and “tell a story” instead of “constantly selling” on social media.
Allmond said the social media strategies all rely on core principles shared with traditional marketing.
“The ultimate goal of every business owner, whether you’re a brick-and-mortar or you’re online, is you want to increase traffic to your business, you want more leads and prospects, and you want more revenue for your bottom line,” she said.
“It always comes down to relative contact and knowing your market,” she said. “You have to know your market, and know what your customers want, otherwise you’re just talking to a wall.”
Entrepreneurs in attendance Thursday said the event offered a valuable opportunity to meet other small business owners.
Vicki Brown, who has been a small business owner for 34 years, said it was “great to see so many women entrepreneurs come together.” Brown owns T-Shirt Store at 222 W. Randolph.
“It’s important that we come together, and that we have support for other female-owned businesses,” Brown said. “We are a minority in business, but we are definitely a presence in Enid, and just by networking together we can learn from each other.”
Denise Rogers, who is just starting out in business, said the networking event was inspirational. She recently launched her designer jewelry business, Deezigns Jewelry, and her work currently is featured at For You! Boutique downtown, and at Posh in Heritage Hills Shopping Center.
“It’s inspiring me to keep going, and to keep learning as much as I can to conduct business properly,” Rogers said. “It’s inspiring to hear other women’s stories, and that they started out from the bottom up.”
Stacey Brandhorst, manager of programs and outreach for the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship, said events like Thursday’s WE Inspire session can be empowering for women entrepreneurs.
“There are a lot of women in small business who don’t consider themselves entrepreneurs,” Brandhorst said. “Bringing them together in an event like this is very powerful. And, helping them build their networks is good for them, it’s good for their businesses and it’s good for Enid.”
Brandhorst said more WE Inspire events are planned for the future, and she ultimately hopes to offer a networking event in Enid every quarter.
She said women entrepreneurs also should consider attending the annual WE Inspire Conference, scheduled for April 2 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.
“The conference is a place to not only get inspired by other entrepreneurs, but also to build your small business skills and expand your network,” Brandhorst said.
For more information on WE Inspire events, go to weinspire.net.