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Creating a Digital Avatar with Heart: Rules of Engagement

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"Many woman entrepreneurs today occupy different spaces and need to adjust behavior and language accordingly; online and offline. Everyone has a good story. What's yours?"

-- Genevieve Castelino, Producer/Writer, Chakra Media Group

"Social media doesn't replace the personal touch needed in today's business environment where an authentic human connection builds trust and credibility."

-- Alan Starost, Partner, Zip Creative Marketing Firm

Summer is upon us, and for many people in business, especially in entrepreneurship, that often means it's the "slow season." In real time that is. Maybe that's why summer is becoming known as a time for conferences. A time for revamping one's strategy and mindset. An opportunity to tap into the power of networking. A chance to (re)create one's digital avatar online.

Crafting a digital avatar with heart is a necessity, not a luxury, in today's tech-driven, globally connected, uber-competitive, and fast paced startup culture. A successful entrepreneur in the iEra needs to rethink the definition of community. A visionary entrepreneur needs to rethink how to better balance humanity and technology, purpose and profit, and cultural innovation with business model innovation and pivots.

It's something that Apple has understood all along, moving us all towards the reality of a smartphone becoming the digital hub; professionally and personally. It's something Apple demonstrated again at the recent WWDC Keynote Address; a love letter to the community of digital citizens we are all slowly becoming.

That's why it's time for us to rethink our social media "war room" strategy and our mental approach to success and mentorship; in real time and online. Especially women entrepreneurs.

Why? Because we are particularly effective social media users who are biologically hardwired to appreciate its global reach and accessibility. Because we can use our empathy and collaborative skills to make it work for us by networking and acting on our understanding of the human mind and how buyers buy.

Women entrepreneurs can and do harness the power of collaboration and cognitive empathy to facilitate our confidence in our ability to problem solve; the raison d'être of an entrepreneur. We are mindful that our troubleshooting and overall work should make a difference and craft a self-sustaining legacy for the collective community and for the next generation. Crafting a digital avatar that represents that innate skill set and innate mission is therefore something we intuitively understand and strive for. That's why social media is becoming an integral part of the entrepreneurial workflow; no matter what service/product is being offered.

That's why humanizing one's digital avatar and "talking human" is crucial to the social communication and social technology process. So that we tell better stories and win the hearts and minds of our clients and followers. So that we leave a digital and psychological breadcrumb of relatable "teachable moments".

Social media when leveraged appropriately, creatively, and meaningfully, can create an intellectual and psychological ecosystem filled with mini learning modules for all. We are all both teacher and student in a universal classroom these days. One that provides thought leadership, virtual mentorship, and emotional resonance for others on similar journeys. Those looking for inspiration, guidance, community, and opportunities for growth; professionally and personally.

It's something I talked about at the Growth Meetup organized by Diana Kyser McNeff, for the Women's Center for Entrepreneurship Corporation of NJ. I presented some of the rules of engagement re: crafting one's digital avatar.

Using my NICE lens and personal experience within the entrepreneurial and social media arenas, I provided these takeaways for the talented, diverse, intrepid, and intelligent women and two lone supportive gentlemen entrepreneurs I met:

1. The real purpose of one's digital avatar is to mirror one's learning style, attitude, and actions to transition from Me to We re: digital citizenship and an entrepreneurial ecosystem

2. The 3 E's of Digital Avatar Engagement: educate, entertain, encourage change

3. "Talking Human" as a digital avatar is accomplished best when using storytelling to foster emotional resonance via visuals and humor

4. "Talking Human" as a digital avatar means problem solving and collaborating

• Addressing pain points in your niche (social listening, content curation, content creation-blogging etc.)

• Citing blogposts and social media posts of others (attribution, sharing helpful and/or insightful information, thought leadership and virtual mentorship)

5. A digital avatar has a reputation to protect, across platforms, just like one's reputation in real life so "ponder before posting!"

Entrepreneurship today is rife with opportunities to create, communicate, and collaborate with people in different locales, industries, and venues. Thanks to technology, especially social technology, ecosystems are being defined and refined on an almost daily basis, thus promoting disruptive innovation and new opportunities. The trick to creating a digital avatar with heart is finding that balance between being playful and being meaningful. Between intellectual interactions and emotional overtures to build relationships and branding. It's about showcasing the absurd in the human condition, and "sharing a moment" by collectively laughing about it, and then sharing solutions and ideas. It spurs collective change, and gives the competitive, solitary, sometimes grueling nature of entrepreneurship in the iEra its wings to be free, and be more in touch with humanity.