Building your “Tribe” through Digital Literacy

As I sit here in my ENGL 304 Business Writing Class at Clemson…I watch the Team (well students) take their first test. It is 43 multiple choice answers with a discussion answer. I am thinking about how I tried to make this more of a team exercise. Well…I tried something different (at-least to me).

I had already pre-written the test and took all the questions and framed them into study questions. After doing so, I uploaded the study questions onto Google Docs where all of the class documents live. I then invited all of the team members in the class to look at the document giving them access as editors.

When we came into the class previous from the test, we had a collaborative study session. I asked them to divide into groups where each group handled one chapter from the book. I then asked them for one of the group members to use their laptops to access the study guide I invited them into, then work together to answer the questions in Google Docs with the ability to use their book and each others knowledge.

This is what is cool about Google Docs, it allows multiple individuals to access a document from different geographic locations and edit the document in real time. Each member that is online working in the document can watch other editors write in the document. This is a powerful collaborative learning tool.

As each member of each group in the class was looking for answers and updating the document, they were not only collaborating online but also verbally within a group but also between groups. Then after the class was over, they had one document that they could refer to as a study guide for the test. Over the next day, I noticed that different individuals were going into the document, refining the answers, and updating information.

WOW – DIGITAL LITERACY! Using technology to collaborate and educate not only themselves but each other. I was inspired by their buy-in. They all came into class empowered to take the test.

Now, here is the bigger picture. I love this part…they were building relationships with their team members. They were breaking down barriers and working with other people in the class they normally would not associate and building trust, building relationships. Imagine if one day these team members, these students might actually do business together outside of the educational setting. Imagine if two students in this class came together one day and were leaders in a community. These team members are our tomorrow. They will be deciding how my children (and their children) will be effected by healthcare, the economy, etc., etc., etc. Digital Literacy, Collaboration, Open Source Technology – it Empowers Our Tomorrow!

Empowering our tomorrow!

I was asked to speak to the Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity this past Wednesday and was I amazed by the turnout.

Last Spring I spoke to the group and there were only about 15 students that attended the meeting. But when I showed up on Wednesday night, I was overwhelmed by the turnout. I would say close to 60 students were in attendance to one of many Delta Sigma Pi recruiting events.

These aspiring, young entrepreneurs were dressed to impress. Not only did they have their business digs on…they had their conversation caps ready. The conversation for the night was networking, entrepreneurship, and leaving a lasting legacy.

They are our future. These students are the ones that will take care of my children. They will be the business leaders of tomorrow making decisions about my “Social Security”, my healthcare, my children’s tomorrow. Education is more than just education…it is about EMPOWERING our tomorrow. Empowering them to make their mark and create a lasting legacy.

I was thinking about legacy and what it means to leave your footprint. I gradated from Clemson twice, first in 1997 with a BS in Mathematics and then in 2003 with a MA in Professional Communications. As I was walking to my Business Writing Class…I found this…my name in the sidewalk here on Clemson’s Campus.

Building Communities – Anderson Area Chamber Style

About a week ago…I get a call from the Anderson Area Chamber to help take part in their yearly membership drive. At first, I was kind of perplexed about this request, but I believe in the life of the chamber so I was happy to jump on board. Plus, I have never taken part in a membership drive so I was interested to check out the process and maybe build some relationships along the way.

To the pleasant voice on the other side of the phone, I happily agreed to show up for a training this morning. So 8am this morning, I made my way into a conference room at the Area Chamber of Commerce where the room was full and the coffee was brewing. JAVA – Good!

What I walked away from this hour and half experience is that the Anderson Area Chamber is building communities, raising awareness, and not just making simple cold calls asking for membership dues.

The Anderson Area Chamber brought in a Membership Campaign Consultant to help the 25 plus members (that agreed to take part in this effort) come together as a group and use their sphere of influence to ask non-chamber members to consider joining their “Tribe”…their “Ecosystem”…their “Sphere of Influence.” Sheryl Ross is her name and empowering communities is her game.

This is here membership game:
Communities —> Awareness —> Membership

As I looked around the room, there was a wide representation of membership taking part in this event. Each one was hand selected, each one has a sphere of influence, each one is passionate about small business development, each one consistently understands the meaning of leveraging relationships. Sheryl Ross was brought in to empower the membership represented in the room about the benefits of a chamber membership; and to empower this membership to expand the “Sphere of Influence” by tapping into their personal/business address books.

What is the point of joining a Chamber of Commerce, especially one that has a broad “Sphere of Influence”? How about to have a voice, generate revenue, and save money. That is the bottom-line. The Anderson Area Chamber is building their “Tribe”, expanding their sphere of influence, and gaining momentum for the following:

Empowering Membership —> Empowering Awareness —> Empowering Business

This is a training session that I enjoyed…I guess I drank the kool-aid. But whatever the reason, I want to be a part of this “Tribe”. I want to grow my “Sphere of Influence.” That is the benefit for each member that showed up for this training session. An opportunity to grow their “Tribe” by networking and engaging in fluid conversation with others in the room, those potential “Tribe” members that will be recruited, and ultimately to feel like they are a part of a “Tribe”. While the chamber is leveraging their membership in the room as means to grow and find new members, the membership in the room is recruiting new members and growing their sphere of influence…this is a mutually beneficial relationship. Business and engaging/building/leveraging relationships is fun. I want some more kool-aid….actually some more coffee.