Veteran business coach Melinda F. Emerson, president, MFE Consulting, LLC, is a woman on a mission and that mission is to end small business failure. Knowing the critical importance of building a strong network, Emerson turned to Twitter and began hosting SmallBizChat in April of 2009. “I wanted to create a vehicle for start-up and emerging entrepreneurs to ask questions in a safe environment and learn about things that could come up as a problem in their small businesses down the road.”
Together with Cathy Larkin (@cathywebsavvypr) as co-host, and her virtual assistant, Sonia Schenker (@yourjobmyoffice) who transcribes the chat, these three women have built a following that draws over a hundred participants contributing more than 800 tweets for the hour-long chat.
Even with 59 chats under her belt, Emerson doesn't claim to know it all. “I learn something every week. Technology is great, but it is not guaranteed to work. There are limits to communicating in 140 characters.”
To compensate for these limitations, Emerson not only publishes the chat's transcript, but also publishes a Q&A from each #Smallbizchat on her blog every Thursday morning, following the chat so that people who do not use Twitter can benefit from the information as well.
SmallBizLady formula for a successful online chat
1. Use a script. Emerson posts questions for the experts using Q1 for the first question, Q2, Q3, and so on, with answers carrying the notation A1, A2, etc. to make it easy to follow the conversation and the transcript.
2. Have an expert guest and network of supporters who will chime in and add great value to the conversation.
3. Publish a Q & A the next day for non-Twitter users.
Emerson is finding chats work. "As a small business coach, my mission is to end small business failure. #Smallbizchat is one way that I work towards my goal."
From Handshake 2.0:
Melinda Emerson is a Virginia Tech alumna and spoke at Virginia Tech on March 16, 2010.
Z. Kelly Queijo is the founder of SmartCollegeVisit and a frequent contributor ro Handshake 2.0. You're invited to follow SmartCollegeVisit on Twitter, @collegevisit where she hosts #CampusChat on Wednesdays at 9 PM Eastern, immediately following #SmallBizChat.
Those posts by Z. Kelly Queijo may also be of interest: