Update: This is a recap of my live-tweeting from the GrowSmartBusiness conference held today in DC. I did try to give everyone a heads up that I would be doing this, but if you didn’t get that (because I know you have better things to do than hang on every word I say), I apologize in advance for clogging your Twitterstream.

As far as the conference goes: in one word – WOW, what a day. But more on that later. I used the Twitter LiveBlog plugin for WordPress to populate this blog, which essentially means that all my tweets (which were duly hashtagged with #growsmartbiz) during the conference automatically provided content for this post. Hattip to Neville Hobson, from whom I learned about this.

8:42:09 AM: Roy Dunbar (Network Solutions) is welcoming everyone at #growsmartbiz. He’s got a cool accent.

8:45:04 AM: Roy’s presenting very interesting findings from SBSI (Small Business Success Index) at #growsmartbiz, find ’em at http://www.growsmartbusiness.com

8:47:53 AM: Financial mistakes small biz are making: cutting prices, valuable employees & hurting company morale #growsmartbiz

8:50:58 AM: Learning: “If you have to cut expenses, cut early, deep, get over it and move on.” #growsmartbiz

8:51:36 AM: 51% of highly competitive businesses are businesses with multiple owners. #growsmartbiz

8:52:54 AM: Roy’s giving props to chambers of commerce for the networking & relationships they facilitate #growsmartbiz

8:54:09 AM: “Goals should be carved in stone, and plans written in the sand.” #growsmartbiz. LOVE it!

8:55:01 AM: Highly competitive businesses differentiate themselves (from their peers) by mastering 6 or more Internet tools #growsmartbiz

8:58:26 AM: Tools like co. email, co. site, online adv. in industry directories => leads, productivity, customers & mgmt of customers #growsmartbiz.

8:59:20 AM: RT @shashib: #GrowSmartBiz Live cast by @livestreamCOM at http://livestream.com/networksolutions Pls RT

8:58:26 AM: Tools like co. email, co. site, online adv. in industry directories => leads, productivity, customers & mgmt of customers #growsmartbiz.

8:59:20 AM: RT @shashib: #GrowSmartBiz Live cast by @livestreamCOM at http://livestream.com/networksolutions Pls RT

9:00:52 AM: Almost 60% of Internet users make a purchase online as a result of a local business online search #growsmartbiz

9:03:00 AM: Common barriers to setting up a site: don’t know where to start, fear of cost & time, lack of technical knowledge #growsmartbiz

9:04:12 AM: One of the tools Reston Limo’s using successfully: wireless access in limos = employees are productive, so are customers #growsmartbiz

9:07:00 AM: I think Roy Dunbar could sell ice to an Eskimo. I’m sold. #growsmartbiz

9:10:46 AM: Love love LOVE that all the presentations are on the jump drives handed out w/badges at #growsmartbiz.

9:11:46 AM: And… Chris Anderson is up! #growsmartbiz

9:13:51 AM: “This is the golden age of small business,” says @chr1sa at #growsmartbiz.

9:18:38 AM: Most of our life, we live partly in the head and partly in the tail says @chr1sa. #growsmartbiz

9:20:31 AM: “The smallest sellers can have the most influence, because they can be most targeted & distinct” – @chr1sa at #growsmartbiz

9:23:24 AM: The Internet allows you to participate in a global dialog, find who’s just right for your business. #growsmartbiz

9:27:41 AM: Most companies don’t address the long tail. #growsmartbiz That’s the most interesting space.

9:42:09 AM: Not quite sure what’s going on with wi-fi at #growsmartbiz, I was kicked off.

9:47:48 AM: Chris has been talking about the “power of free.” #growsmartbiz

9:49:00 AM: “Freemium” allows you to sample the product, find its utility & understand the value proposition precisely. #growsmartbiz

9:49:52 AM: Customers whom “freemium” convert are more loyal; this is the alternative to traditional advertising. #growsmartbiz

9:59:48 AM: “Free” and “paid” work very well together, they don’t go head to head. Just requires smart thinking. #growsmartbiz

10:02:40 AM: Personal offerings are turning into software (e.g. Legal services, accounting). @chr1sa says next will be healthcare, LOL. #growsmartbiz

10:04:08 AM: Roy’s introducing Sen. Warner now. #growsmartbiz

10:07:50 AM: Love the way Sen. Warner says as a “new” senator, was “hired” last Nov. #growsmartbiz

10:18:56 AM: After much grappling with my laptop, I *think* I at least have TweetDeck access again. @rickdassler is very patient. #growsmartbiz

10:21:41 AM: Sen. Warner: Small businesses are the only people who pay retail. #growsmartbiz

10:28:54 AM: It “blows his mind” that IT has revolutionized almost every industry except healthcare, says Sen. Warner at #growsmartbiz

10:32:09 AM: RT @gwickes @DaniloB: Live feed of Mark Warner speaking at #GrowSmartBiz conference http://bit.ly/L75um #fb

10:37:33 AM: Disappointed in Sen. Warner’s address. Glad he commits to us as a “bipartisan radicalist,” but not much use for #growsmartbiz. 🙁

10:59:13 AM: I’m headed to the #growsmartbiz learning center now. Laptop, stay on table.

11:52:54 AM: Sneaked back into the #growsmartbiz room for a bit. Marissa Levin’s talking about the importance of face-to-face connection.

12:06:00 PM: RT @rickdassler: John Arnold says #growsmartbiz communication needs to be 80% educational value and 20% promotional.

12:08:16 PM: Pick up the phone & call 2 customers/clients a week JUST to check in, says @londonink. Don’t sell anything. #growsmartbiz

12:09:30 PM: “Leveraging customer relationships” is calling, says @londonink. #growsmartbiz

12:16:30 PM: Q: is it ok to put together an email list of people you meet at a conference like #growsmartbiz using something like Constant Contact?

12:17:37 PM: Both John Arnold & @londonink are basically saying it’s ok to begin with but to get permission…. did I get that right? #growsmartbiz

12:19:13 PM: I personally would hate to be added to a “formal” list by someone I meet for the 1st time at a conference. Get to know me 1st. #growsmartbiz

12:23:26 PM: Randy Windsor from Network Solutions up now, on SEO. #growsmartbiz

12:24:09 PM: RT @JayFleischman @cc_chapman @gloriabell ABE: Always be eavesdropping. Make yourself a student of what is going on around you #growsmartbiz

12:24:41 PM: Top 10 SEO tips. #10: use keywords in your internal page URLs if possible. #growsmartbiz

12:25:39 PM: #9: Use a descriptive domain name. #growsmartbiz

12:26:22 PM: #8: use a logical & simple navigation structure. #growsmartbiz

12:27:54 PM: #7: Create theme-based pages. #growsmartbiz

12:28:11 PM: #6: use tags & meta tags properly. #growsmartbiz

12:29:56 PM: #5: Use keyword rich anchor text for all links. #growsmartbiz

12:30:51 PM: #4: Target effective keywords; understand how your potential customers search & what words they use. #growsmartbiz

12:31:06 PM: #3: Create good original content, don’t copy. #growsmartbiz

12:32:37 PM: #2: Linking, linking, linking! 7 / 10 factors impacting natural search rankings have to do with links. #growsmartbiz

12:33:37 PM: #1: Know what you’re up against. Don’t think about beating the engines, beat your competitors. Use competitive analysis. #growsmartbiz

12:35:07 PM: Randy Windsor was very good. Kept it sweet and short. Nice job. #growsmartbiz

12:44:44 PM: Jeremy Brown of Rapid Advance says a bank loan is your best option, so if you can get that, go for it. #growsmartbiz

12:47:25 PM: Edward Tuvin (Capital Bank): have a clean application (don’t use 1 bank’s form with another) including a business plan. #growsmartbiz

12:47:50 PM: Tuvin says his pet peeve is that people don’t know what they’re asking for. You have to understand the talk of the lender. #growsmartbiz

12:50:13 PM: Good question from @restonlimo: Does every business need a business plan? Tuvin says no, but it’s a good exercise to do. #growsmartbiz

12:55:08 PM: Denise O’Berry says to do a cash flow budget where you’re looking ahead 6 – 12 months. Also, have a cash target every month. #growsmartbiz

12:55:48 PM: “Do a cash flow budget and actively participate in it.” #growsmartbiz (I like that).

12:57:23 PM: You are not a bank, and you need to do whatever you can so that you collect your receivables in a shorter timeframe. #growsmartbiz

12:57:47 PM: I love that. “You are not a bank.” Nice one, Denise O’Berry! #growsmartbiz

1:07:31 PM: RT @LDpodcast: Small business development counselors; womens business centers- all great small business resources #growsmartbiz

1:08:51 PM: Y’know, the thumb drive itself will be worth the price of admission at #growsmartbiz.

1:36:48 PM: Getting to know @CoachLynneB over lunch at #growsmartbiz.

2:16:19 PM: Great catching up with @debbieweil @geoffliving @angellino @digitalsista @dariasteigman at #growsmartbiz!

2:19:12 PM: After lunch, Rieva Lesonsky is up. Says most entrepreneurs are really uncomfortable with that term. #growsmartbiz

2:23:39 PM: Brands aren’t that important any more to consumers, they’re looking for value. #growsmartbiz Look at what other people are doing, add value.

2:28:32 PM: RT @LDpodcast: Do an ROI on potential clients, make sure you’re taking on work wisely, be willing to say no. Reiva Lesonsky #growsmartbiz

2:33:05 PM: Next up: Branding 101 by Anthony Pappas. #growsmartbiz

2:36:28 PM: Branding 101: Not about logo. About making an impression (emotional connection creates value). #growsmartbiz

2:39:54 PM: Make sure you understand what makes you different, says @anthonypappas #growsmartbiz.

2:42:05 PM: A customer needs to identify with the brand. A brand needs to identify with an audience (@anthonypappas) #growsmartbiz

2:45:55 PM: One of the main goals of a brand should be to influence “the decision” (@anthonypappas) #growsmartbiz.

2:47:11 PM: LOL! RT @chrisabraham: Can I hear a “shameless plug” from Anthony Pappas 🙂 @AnthonyPappas @PappasGroup #growsmartbiz

2:48:30 PM: Tangible v. intangible: you want your brand to be more valuable than the sum of its parts (@anthonypappas). #growsmartbiz

2:49:57 PM: With @rajmalikdc & @newpr a short while ago. Food at #growsmartbiz is GREAT. http://tr.im/A86J

2:50:45 PM: RT @debbieweil: @growsmartbiz blog write-up of @chr1sa’s keynote for #growsmartbiz conference in DC today http://bit.ly/280V4P

2:53:37 PM: Measure, measure, measure, measure, measure, says @anthonypappas, see how you’re doing & constantly change. #growsmartbiz

2:55:38 PM: I have to run back to the #growsmartbiz learning center for a bit. Gotta make sure I catch @alexorfinger’s presentation.

3:42:45 PM: Back at the #growsmartbiz conference room. They’re going through findings from the SBSI, I think, is that right?

3:43:24 PM: Key strengths of small businesses; customer service, compliance (w/laws & regulations, etc.). #growsmartbiz

3:48:51 PM: Now: effective use of the Washington Business Journal from @alexorfinger. #growsmartbiz

3:50:52 PM: “Always Be Eavesdropping” for us, says @AlexOrfinger.

3:51:50 PM: Go to WBJ’s site: find out information on competitors, go on client visits w/information, says @alexorfinger. WBJ has most local biz info.

3:52:16 PM: Go to WBJ’s site: find out information on competitors, go on client visits w/information. WBJ has most local biz info. #growsmartbiz

3:53:04 PM: 5-5-5 process: Try to find 5 leads in each section of the WBJ #growsmartbiz.

3:55:02 PM: Just to clarify, news, people moves & lists are the sections @alexorfinger’s talking about re: 5-5-5. #growsmartbiz

4:11:54 PM: Steve Fisher’s 10 Rules for Killer Business Cards. #growsmartbiz #1: Tell me what you do. Quickly.

4:13:41 PM: Rule #2: Include the ways you want to be contacted. #3: Don’t use your personal email address. #growsmartbiz

4:14:56 PM: #4: You can be cool, but be relevant to your audience. #growsmartbiz Loving the post-divorce counselor card example, LOL.

4:16:02 PM: #5: Biz cards make great promos, BUT promos don’t make great biz cards. #growsmartbiz

4:19:50 PM: #6: Make your business cards scannable. #growsmartbiz. #7: have an area on which you can write a note.

4:20:16 PM: OK, #growsmartbiz attendees, how mnay of you are surreptitiously examining your business cards RIGHT NOW? 😉

4:21:13 PM: #9: Use a professional printer. Your laserjet does NOT count. LOL! #growsmartbiz

4:22:24 PM: Rule #10: Give out 2 cards (they might be able to pass one along, but tell ’em why so that they don’t think you’re a loony). #growsmartbiz

4:23:24 PM: #11 (bonus rule): Don’t include your cell #. If you write it on from time to time, it’s a way of personalizing it. #growsmartbiz

4:24:05 PM: RT @bjw72: Streaming live – The #GrowSmartBiz conference by Network Solutions. http://www.livestream.com/networksolutions

4:25:32 PM: Last panel getting ready to take its place at #growsmartbiz. Yea @jillfoster!

4:30:04 PM: According to @jillfoster, social media is “content published online by technology with the intent to provide value.” #growsmartbiz

4:40:12 PM: Great job organizing #growsmartbiz; would have helped to have speakers’ Twitter handles on tentcards/conf site so that they were handy.

4:50:36 PM: Uh, with all due respect, @jmpineda, $2.5K is not a lot to pay for “PR.” Ask anyone seasoned pro who’s been around agencies. #growsmartbiz

4:55:18 PM: Btw, folks on the last panel at #growsmartbiz: @jmpineda @brentleary @creativeblogs @danilob, moderator @jillfoster.

4:57:51 PM: Tips for newbies on Twitter (per audience qn) from @DaniloB: If you don’t know something, just ask. Don’t let it turn you off. #growsmartbiz

5:11:57 PM: We’re being bad in the bloggers corner at #growsmartbiz. Tellin’ ya, you want to be a fly on the wall near us. 😉

5:13:40 PM: Last panel at #growsmartbiz did SM101 well. Not sure it addressed integrating traditional w/SM. @jillfoster’s a terrific moderator, tho’.

5:15:07 PM: Roy Dunbar’s wrapping up here at #growsmartbiz. It’s been a long day but a really great one. @shashib @geoffliving please pass kudos to all.

If you followed my tweets, were they interesting or irritating? Is this blog post helpful or not? Whatever your reaction, do let me know by leaving a comment below.

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps smart businesses make bank by taking their communications from corporate codswallop to community cool™. She is also the founder of The Social PR Virtuoso®, which provides online, on-demand training that helps you unleash your inner Social PR superhero. Shonali is mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke