SourceLink Affiliate Quarterly Conversation – June 16, 2022

Welcome New Affiliates!

SourceLink director, Rob Williams, kicked off our June Affiliate Quarterly Conversation sharing exciting news from around our network. Congratulations to new affiliates, Business Forward Oakland County, MI and Evergreen BizLink (Washington state) on their recent launches. Also, congratulations to the ChiBizHub team on the innovative rebranding of their website. A new statewide SourceLink affiliate, Louisiana Business Hub, is now in the implementation stage and is scheduled to launch in November.

Three projects with National League of Cities cohort members are near completion. The cities of Charleston, NC, Monmouth, OR and Jamestown, NY now have SourceFinder™ posters of available resources and asset mapping reports they can share with entrepreneurs and their stakeholders.

People on the Move – Updates from our Network

Two all-star affiliates were recognized by the Small Business Administration recently. Jerry Ross, president of the National Entrepreneur Center, host of BizLink Orange, was recently named 2022 Small Business Advocate of the year for the state of Florida by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Kat Rutledge and her team at the KCC Small Business Development Center, home of SourceLink affiliate Klamath IDEA, recently received the 2022 SBA Oregon & Pacific Northwest SBDC Excellence and Innovation Award.

Welcome to Katy Cook who recently joined the BizLink Orange team as program manager and to Michael Carmona who joined KCSourceLink as network builder. Best wishes and a big thank you to Thomas Hall and Shelby Newsome (SEEN Startups), Jaime Gassmann (Fluent) and Rachel Madson (BizLink Orange) as they pursue new opportunities.

Hold on to your hats! Planning has commenced for our SourceLink Affiliate Gathering in spring of 2023 in San Juan, Puerto Rico! Since our plans were postponed in March of 2020, we are hopeful that we can meet each other in person, share best practices and learn from thought leaders and experts in the industry. More details to come!

National Trends in Ecosystem Building

Rob and Dara shared updates to current trends in our field. The Ecosystem Building Leadership Project (EBLP) evolved from the ESHIP Summits hosted by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation over the past six years. New findings have been released from a survey covering trends in the field of ecosystem building. The project is being facilitated by the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) and funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. To learn more about EBLP and get involved visit

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) continues to offer the Entrepreneurship Development Professional certification program. The program is designed for professionals who work with entrepreneurs and small businesses as well as those that support them via programs, networks and approaches that foster small business and entrepreneurial growth. More than 475 individuals have recently participated in the two new courses and 16 are on track to receive their certification. This program is supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and developed by SourceLink.

Tech Enhancements

A new feature in SourceLink℠ Pro allows scheduling surveys either once or daily, weekly or monthly. This is particularly helpful when sending satisfaction surveys to entrepreneur clients who requested assistance. When sending a 1-Month Satisfaction Survey, we recommend sending the first invitation to once. Then create a second invitation entitled “Follow Up: 1-Month Satisfaction Survey” to be sent weekly for two weeks.

A small but mighty addition to the Interactions tab in SourceLink Pro includes a new option to “Save & Add Referral!” So now the Save Interaction button has a dropdown menu: Save Interaction, Save & Add Snapshot and Save & Add Referral.

We continue to add new examples of materials crowdsourced from affiliates in the SourceLink Affiliate Toolkit. If you have samples you would like to share or need access to the Toolkit, please email Pola Firestone.

Engaging with Entrepreneurs and Resource Partners

Affiliates regularly seek innovative ways to connect with entrepreneurs and resource partners so we asked the teams from Sparkyard in Fort Worth, Texas and Klamath IDEA in Klamath Falls, Oregon to share some of their successful activities.

“If you are new to the ecosystem, Yard Party: Happy Hour for Entrepreneurs is a place to connect with entrepreneurs and resource partners,” says Cameron Cushman, director of Innovation Ecosystems at the University of North Texas Health Sciences. Marketing coordinator, Kendel Rogers explained that Yard Party is a casual monthly gathering held at a trendy new bar or restaurant and gives new entrepreneurs an opportunity to network and learn more about Sparkyard resources. A different resource partner is featured each month. Invitations are sent to entrepreneurs who recently engaged with Sparkyard as well as newsletter subscribers and resource partners. The event is promoted on all social media channels.

“IDEA Talks can be the spark that can inspire someone to start a business,” says Justin Lair, entrepreneur concierge at Klamath IDEA. One or two entrepreneurs are invited to share their story each month. Anyone in the community interested in entrepreneurship is welcome to attend. To connect with resource partners, Klamath IDEA hosts eResource Partner meetings every other month. The agenda includes a lightening round where each resource partner shares what’s going on in their organization. This activity keeps the network connected and has proven to be of great value to the community.

The Small Business Administration’s Community Navigator Pilot Program uses a community navigator approach to help small businesses. The program model is comprised of a lead “Hub” at the center of a network of “Spoke” organizations that deploy community advocates to work with small businesses during economic recovery.

Hassan Bazzi, community navigator with Forward Cities, learned to meet people where they are. Entrepreneurs are very busy and he learned not give up on meeting with them because of their timeline. He mentioned that entrepreneurs may be skeptical of working with a new program due to time restrictions or because of unsatisfactory results from past initiatives. “It takes about five interactions to build trust so they will give the program a try,” says Hassan.

Tommy Wartman, SBA CNPP coordinator from The GRID is optimistic the program will continue to be successful since their program has successfully raised more funds for partners than the original grant plus they have seen an influx of people moving to northern Wisconsin. He agrees with Hassan, community navigators will need to play the long game, keep trying to connect with entrepreneurs to help people in their own environment and says, “If you don’t see success immediately keep trying.”

A Rebrand and New Philosophy

In January, Allies for Community Business, a microlender and small business support organization in Chicago, Illinois assumed the administration of ChiBizHub and began the process of rebranding the website. Katie Smith, manager of business connections, joined us to share their philosophy of “precision over abundance” in consolidating The Resource Navigator® taxonomy and improving user flow on the website.

Using recommendations from the Allies for Community Business coaching team for categories of assistance along with input from focus groups and entrepreneurs, seven main categories and 35 topic areas were identified. Marketing efforts to get the word out about the new website have attracted more than 3000 users in the first two months it has been live. Of the 3000 users, 946 clicked on the partner title from the initial search on The Resource Navigator, however only 30 users clicked the “Connect me with this organization.”

Katie and her team use a data driven approach to assisting entrepreneurs and have posed the following questions to other affiliates:

  • How many entrepreneurs do you see per month click the “connect me to this organization” button?
  • How many entrepreneurs are you serving monthly (calls, emails and ‘connect me”)?
  • What do you have in place (or are you developing) to best be of help to entrepreneurs? (guides, worksheets, videos, etc?)

Affiliates can use the SU402 Resource Navigator User Activity Log (Extraction) report in SourceLink Pro for determining “connect me with this organization” clicks in a specific time frame. Contact Katie Smith.

SourceLink Turns 19!

What better way to celebrate our 19th birthday than with a new SourceLink website! Johanna Cook, SourceLink communications specialist, presented our new website with new features including success stories, national events calendar and the ability to filter blog posts by topic. We look forward to receiving your feedback!

Finally, we concluded the Affiliate Quarterly Conversation with a “SourceLink Trivia Challenge” where affiliates tested their knowledge of SourceLink and our history. Here are some of the fun facts that we were able to share:

  • What was SourceLink℠ Pro’s (CRM) name when it was first developed? (Biz-Trakker)
  • Approximately how many affiliates has SourceLink served since 2003? (200+)
  • What affiliate has the largest total population? (Evergreen BizLink – Washington State 7.5 m)

Thanks to everyone who celebrated with us!

SourceLink Affiliate Conversations

SourceLink Affiliate Quarterly Conversations are an exclusive benefit for affiliate members. Agendas includes topics, speakers and discussions suggested by our community of network builders and is an opportunity to share best practices and collaborate with one another. For more information about becoming a SourceLink affiliate and joining our conversations contact Dara Macan.