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Connecting Your Community

Early-stage businesses rely heavily on their social, professional and informal networks.  These networks provide trusted referrals to funding sources for loans and equity, first customers and mentors that can support their business. A central hub can help link all of these networks to entrepreneurs and to each other, building a cohesive community to support new business growth. These networks are best supported through both robust online and on-the-ground activities.

Leveraging and linking together existing resources can go a long way in engaging your community.  Entrepreneurial support organizations far too often independently reach out to entrepreneurs. Bringing those groups together can serve to rapidly engage and organize a broad community for measured improvement.

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"Our passion is in helping people, teams and organizations succeed.
Building relationships between organizations helps communities achieve their goals."

Pola Firestone, Relationship Manger and Affiliate Liaison

SourceLink® Connection Tools

Hotline

Someone, somewhere is answering a phone in your community to help direct entrepreneurs to resources.  Why not formalize that? 

Implementing a one-stop shop is a great way to promote a single contact point as well as collect information that puts you at the center of the ecosystem, letting you collect valuable information on resources' strengths, satisfaction levels and gaps.  Plus, who doesn't want to talk to a real person for quick, professional help?

Using The Resource Navigator® online search system as a basis for support puts the right information in the hands of the person responding to entrepreneur needs.

MSENetWorks




Mississippi's Entrepreneur
Resource Network Hotline

Real people. Real help.

SourceLink® 1-Stop Website

After 12 years of answering entrepreneurial inquiries and watching how people react to the more than 35 websites we run across the United States, we have found the following to be the most asked for resources by entrepreneurs:

  1. An online directory that can point to the right resource at the right time and is always current
  2. A calendar of events that is cohesive and shows all events available in a region
  3. Tailored content about how to specifically start a business in a particular region

Wrapping a website around The Resource Navigator® search tool provides a platform from which to promote entrepreneurial support.  Marketing that site as a one-stop shop is what every community dreams of – one place to go for the answers.  And, that platform becomes a place to add content that can support the community – like a central calendar, information on how to start a business in your region and celebrating success. 

SiteConnex® (formerly WebPlateNow℠) web platform will put your entrepreneurial network front and center—directly in the line of sight of entrepreneurs and small business owners who are looking for reliable and relevant resources to start and grow businesses in order to rev your local economy.  Websites can be costly to develop and need to be redesigned every 18 months to keep up with technology changes.  As part of the SourceLink® affiliate network, updates happen automatically.  Optional modules include a jobs board and mentor matching.

In 2010-11, the Iowa General Assembly directed the creation of a one-stop shop where entrepreneurs could find the resources they need to start or grow their businesses. IASourceLink gives exposure to the services and programs that resource partners offer, through a directory, blogs and newsletters. A special section helps aspiring owners find the correct licenses and permits needed to operate in the state of Iowa.

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“One of the great things about the SourceLink platform is that it is so flexible, and the sky’s the limit as to how you can use these tools. The platform has a deeper dive that shows the breadth and depth of resources available to the partners and entrepreneurs in Iowa.”
Amy Kuhlers, IASourceLink program manager.

SourceLink® Central Calendar

Create the most comprehensive business events calendar by pulling together classes and events from all partners in the network. Entrepreneurs can filter events, workshops, seminars and webinars by subject, e.g., marketing, business planning, finance, startup and more. SourceLink administrators can easily approve events shared by partners for inclusion resulting in no charge marketing for their resources.

Watch a demonstration video.

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A partnership between the City of Dallas and Dallas Public Library, Dallas B.R.A.I.N operates a central calendar: one place to go and see entrepreneurial classes and events.

Social Media

How can you use social media to activate your entrepreneurial ecosystem?

  • A good website has all of the bells and whistles that make it easy for people to find it through online search engines.
  • Content livens the site and makes it search engine friendly.
  • Newsletters and other techniques drive people to your site.
  • Expanding reach through social media pulls in the audience and amplifies the message.

Are you social media savvy? SourceLink® offers webinars to build better understanding of social media techniques.

Or better yet, let us manage social media for you. With over a decade of experience marketing entrepreneurial events resulting in increased traffic and attendance, SourceLink can help entrepreneurs find and attend entrepreneurial programming in your region.

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SourceLink® Best Practice, Connection: SourceLink Virginia Spreads the Reach of The Resource Navigator®

In Virginia, several key partners have loaded Resource Navigator on their websites, expanding the availability of the directory to even more entrepreneurs. This is a new approach that SourceLink Virginia has added. By making the directory available on partner websites, more entrepreneurs have easier access to find all of the resources available to them in their region or across the state. SourceLink Virginia saw an almost 25% increase in Resource Navigator searches from their first year in operation to their second.

Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development 
George Mason University Enterprise Center 
Greater Richmond Business First
Launch Something Pulaski
Think BiggerVGA Business Empowerment 
VT KnowledgeWorks
Virginia SBDC Hampton Roads
Virginia SBDC Roanoke