On Monday May 14th, Akilah was honored to welcome to our campus Beth Kanter, a leading pioneer in the communications and marketing industry for the nonprofit sector. Beth is a published author and blogger, named by Fast Company as one of the most influential women in technology in 2009 and one of Business Week’s “Voices of Innovation for Social Media”. In Kigali for a conference on women’s leadership and empowerment in East Africa, Beth was kind enough to lead a two-hour workshop for our Year 2 students on using social media to enact social change – a useful topic given Akilah’s focus on community service and Social Change Projects (See more photos from the workshop on our Facebook Page>>).
The workshop began with the simple question, “What is a network?”. From there, Beth launched into a discussion on the various forms of a network – your group of friends, a circle of business professionals, online platforms like Facebook – and the importance of networking. Students learned that networking is not just a social pastime, but also a professional imperative: it is a way to develop relationships with mentors, to know what is going on in your industry, and to recruit support for your business or initiative.
Nowadays there are countless social media platforms, but Beth decided to focus on one that is becoming increasingly prominent in the networking realm: Twitter. She explained the basics of Twitter, and it’s multiple uses: news curating, professional networking, and information sharing, amongst others. When opening a Twitter account, it’s important to know how to present yourself by crafting a relevant and intriguing profile. This topic segued into discussion on another important tool in one’s networking arsenal, the elevator speech.
After crafting their elevator speeches, the students went outside to put them into practice. They took turns introducing themselves in quick succession, with Beth guiding the process: “What have you accomplished of note? What is your mission? What are you passionate about?”.
The workshop wrapped up with a short explanation of various ways social media can be used to motivate others around one’s cause. One of our students, Gisele Bahati, has already implemented this idea by using Razoo to raise funds to attend the Global Youth Connect human rights conference in New York City this summer. She still has $2,300 left to raise; you can help her get to New York!
When asked what lesson or lessons they had learned as a result of the afternoon’s workshop, the students were emphatic in their responses.
“I learned that I can inspire people around the world using social media and it can be used in diverse ways,” replied Emmanuella.
“I learned about the importance of networking,” stated Peace.
“I learned to not be afraid of doing something that can cause social change,” said Providence.
Actions followed their words: at the end of the school day, several students approached the staff, requesting their help in setting up their own Twitter accounts. Look out, social media world; Akilah students are about to make an entrance!
A huge thanks to Beth Kanter for taking the time to visit the Akilah and share her wealth of knowledge with our now social media-savvy students!
Read Beth’s blogpost about her experience at Akilah on her personal blog.