5 Ways to Grow Your Entrepreneurial Community with #GEW


Global Entrepreneurship WeekFrom November 14 to 20, 2016, more than 160 countries will celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) through more than 35,000 events. Truly it is an international recognition of the innovators and job creators who launch startups and bring ideas to life.

So how can your community leverage this global platform of entrepreneurship to bring together your local entrepreneurship community? Here are seven ways, in order of difficulty, to use GEW to connect and empower your entrepreneurs and rally your community around the importance of entrepreneurship. 

> Hear more about Global Entrepreneurship Week from founder Jonathan Ortmans.


1.   Join the conversation with #GEW.

Take your first steps into GEW by simply joining the conversation on social media. Use the hashtag #GEW to follow conversations that are already happening around Global Entrepreneurship Week. Just pop #GEW or #GEW2016 into the search window of your preferred social channels.

Refine your search and hone in on conversations by location, user, accounts or events using Twitter’s advanced search or Facebook’s search. This will give you a curated list of what people in your community are saying around GEW (or startups or entrepreneurship) and can also let you know what accounts and pages are leading the conversation. It’s a great way to both ease into the dialogue, find content to share with your entrepreneurs and gauge how other communities are using GEW to build their social and entrepreneurial communities. 

Who to Follow

Here’s a short list of folks to follow before and during #GEW.



2.    Raise visibility of your community’s entrepreneurial events.

A calendar of GEW-specific events helps raise the visibility of your community’s entrepreneurial resources as it connects your entrepreneurs and small business owners with education, networking, celebrations and inspiration.

The GEW calendar hosted by KCSourceLink (see it in action at www.gewkc.org) lets users filter that community’s 100+ events by type, so that users can easily find the connections and education they’re looking for.

Moreover, this power calendar helps administrators build, track, engage and measure their audience. Because users sign in to register for events, administrators can start building (and segmenting) their email list and their community. Event organizers get a list of attendees whom they can check in at their events and survey afterwards to find out which events were most valuable and what connections were made.

For SourceLink communities that already host the calendar, this campaign-focused calendar allows you to double your impact and reach while minimizing your input efforts. Events live on your home calendar and on your GEW campaign calendar. 

3.    Co-host an event.

Next step: put yourself on the calendar.

Work with the service providers in your community to co-host an event that showcases your organizations and lets entrepreneurs know where they can go for help. Back it up with social media posts and GEW hashtags to further your reach into and beyond your region.

Obviously, hosting an event requires more commitment and time, but it can be as simple or as hard as you wish. Easy ideas for a GEW event are a networking happy hour (or coffee hour) or an open house. More involved events could be partnering up with SCORE and hosting a class on social media practices for small businesses or ask your local community college business professors and local entrepreneurs to hold an entrepreneurship panel followed by a Q and A Ultimately, you decide how much time you want to put in and make it work.

Co-hosting is an easy way to share the burden and build the visibility of multiple resources in your community. A resource fair is easy-entry into the world of GEW events.

In our affiliate communities across the United States, resource organizations are collaborating to leverage the global exposure and local impact of GEW. Here are few examples of how they’re leveraging GEW.

In Iowa, IASourceLink and the Iowa Rural Development Council (RDC) are hosting the first Iowa Rural Development Summit. This unique event brings together 75 rural Iowa communities under 20,000 in population for a day-long strategic planning session as the first step in building a holistic vision for growth and prosperity.  The goal of the Summit is to ‘Inspire, Inform, Involve and Implement’, and serves as a great capstone to GEW. The keynote and session facilitator will be Don Macke, co-founder and director of entrepreneurial communities at the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship in Lincoln, Nebraska. 

In Albuquerque, the Molino Project is launching The Resource Navigator® alongside an impressive list of GEW events—all to build awareness of resources and connect entrepreneurs to the help they need.

In Kansas City, KCSourceLink has collaborated with several resource organizations to host Coffee Kickoffs on the first day of GEW, Nov. 14. Representatives from those resources organizations will descend on local coffee shops across the KC bistate region, armed with a calendar of events and resource maps that introduce entrepreneurs to the Kansas City entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In Puerto Rico, Colmena66 will launch its network of resource organizations, introducing both potential partners and Puerto Rican entrepreneurs to the entrepreneurial network along with a progress report on the state of Puerto Rican entrepreneurship.

Other event ideas:


  • Demo Day: Students, entrepreneurs and investors gather to hear pitches from 15 local startups over lunch.
  • ShopLocalKC: Local Chambers of Commerce work together to promote downtown shops and businesses all week long.
  • Human Resources Roundtable: Lunch series for students, entrepreneurs, and local government officials with human resource practitioners to discuss challenges, trends and common issues. Gov Fest for Entrepreneurs: What Government Can Do to Help Your Business
  • Investor Portfolio Showcase: Local investors showcase new innovations from their portfolio companies.
  • Myth Busting: Test out common “startup capital” myths with entrepreneurs, investors, and bankers.


4.    Engage entrepreneurs with a social media contest.

Put it together: a calendar of GEW events, maybe a blog post that features entrepreneurial tips and perhaps a series of events that showcase the expertise and education your service organizations provide.

Put it together—and put the bow on it. By encouraging entrepreneurs to engage with your content on social media and share your entrepreneurial assets forward.

This year, KCSourceLink is adding a photo challenge to its GEW campaign. Participants are given a list of challenges like “Snap a photo of the Kansas City entrepreneur who inspires you” or “Show us your GEW calendar” or “Where do you #ShopLocal.” Participants’ Twitter entries are then scoured and one winner per challenge is chosen at random to win a prize—in its case a gift basket of goodies from local merchants. The idea behind such a photo challenge is to reach into participants’ networks to engage with people who may not be familiar with GEW and to increase participation and engagement during GEW.

5.    Measure, measure, measure.

In all honesty, this should be the first item on your list. Before you start any website, campaign, entrepreneurial endeavor, know what your goals are, decide what success looks like and determine how you’ll measure it.

If you’re joining the conversation to build awareness of your organization, track your impressions and reach on your social media channels. If you’re promoting events through a calendar, track your website page views, bounce rate, signups and survey participants’ satisfaction. If you’re co-hosting an event, track attendees and again, survey their satisfaction. If you’re launching a social media campaign, track your hashtag, URL engagement and URL clicks. 

How are you building your entrepreneurial community during #GEW2016?

Tweet us at @joinsourcelink or, you know, just use the hashtag #GEW.

Ready to take the next step to connect and empower your entrepreneurs?

Need help connecting entrepreneurs to during GEW (or Startup Week or Techweek or National Small Business Week)? Contact us—we’re here to help you identify resources, connect and empower entrepreneurs and measure your efforts.