I am back in Lexington, Virginia today to speak at Washington & Lee’s 2nd Annual Entrepreneurship Summit. I love it here and am very excited to share my thoughts on “Leveraging Social Media in New Ventures” later today. While my company, Bank Director, isn’t a “new” play in the traditional sense, I am eager to share what I have learned since I graduated from W&L in ’99. So, in lieu of my traditional focus on banking, today’s post highlights three points I’ll expand upon in a few hours.
(1) Let me start by sharing the presentation I put together: W&L – BD – Social Media. As some might know, we began to “re-imagine” our then-20 year old company in September of 2010 upon the sale of our sister company, Corporate Board Member, to the NYSE. Building a new reputation upon an established brand reflects three tactics I’d picked up in business school, seen applied by technologists at my old firm (Computech) and had reinforced by bank CEOs and Chairmen at our many events. First, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Second, “fail fast” doesn’t always apply, but slow + steady doesn’t necessarily win the race either. Finally, be open, interested and ready to adopt new practices or strategies while relying on your team to shout things up or down.
(2) We talk a lot about “community building” within Bank Director. As we focus on issues fundamental to a bank’s CEO, senior leadership team, chairman and independent directors, we are constantly thinking about building strong + lasting relationships with these leaders across the U.S. Admittedly, we embraced social media pretty quickly — figuring out the best uses of LinkedIn and Twitter — while we designed our digital strategy. By participating in, and not always driving the, conversations through such channels, we identified various trends and opportunities that made their way into our conferences, research, etc. Nothing groundbreaking here, but it does surprise me when people ignore the classic marketing adage “know your customer and give them what they want.”
(3) In a sense, you can look at Bank Director as an example of company that is “passionate” about connecting people through shared experiences. So too are younger ventures like DC-based SocialRadar and Boston-based EverTrue. I choose to highlight these two companies in my presentation as they share this same commitment. If you’re not familiar with SocialRadar, it looks to combine your smartphone’s location with your social network – thereby “allowing you to walk into a room and already be aware of the people around you and how you are connected to them.” EverTrue, started by a football teammate of my brother at Brown, offers colleges and universities “alumni networking platforms” that create stronger communities through an interactive mobile directory and better data from LinkedIn and Facebook. Two up-and-coming companies that fit nicely with the title of today’s post.