Why I Volunteer for the Women In Leadership Development (WILD) Summit Every Year

Every year since 2013 over 500 incredible women in business, or students aspiring to become women in business, sell out the Women In Leadership Development (WILD) Summit that inspired me to expect more for and from myself.

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I attended my first summit in 2014, my senior year of college, right as I was entering the professional workforce as a young woman.

Since then, I have supported and joined countless gender equality and #WomenInBiz (or #WomemInTech) organizations, sought out female mentors and even hired young women whose potential I previously would have been ignorant to – and that’s the whole point.

The mission of The WILD Summit is to provide a professional forum for women who want to learn and share; inspire and be inspired.
  • To increase the visibility and accessibility of successful WILD women in the community to students, and each other.
  • To offer a venue for the presentation and sharing of relevant and provocative topics that are engaging to WILD women across university majors, industries and functional roles.
  • To engage a broad audience of WILD women who fit in every place along the continuum of age & experience – bringing together those who are seeking knowledge and those with a desire to share and give back.

I didn’t just attend the WILD Summit that first year, I worked for it as an unpaid PR/Social Media intern. My very first week I was tasked with creating, managing and fostering the summit’s social media strategies and accounts. My boss at the time was on The Women’s Council that put on the summit and our agency offered a small amount of public relations services pro bono to the event.

Before taking on this role, I knew very little about using social media for businesses. My experience/education was based firmly in traditional journalism and public relations. My professors barked at me to get off twitter, facebook or Instagram in class so they could continue droning on about print media and other endangered traditional media outlets.

I had little skill and even less supervision.

The first year I created a twitter handle, FaceBook page and event hashtag less than two months before the date of the conference. I created the bland, promotional microcontent detailing ticket information and sponsor gratification that I knew was expected of me and learned how in vain attempts like that will always be on social. I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t want to step on any toes or send out anything that other’s perceived as “off brand” or “low caliber.” Not to mention by the time of the conference, I had only gained 45 followers on Twitter and the FaceBook page was lacking engagement.

But alas, the event sold out. Pressure was off and I continued along as I had been until the day of the event: My first “live tweeting” experience. 

The summit is nine hours long and packed with incredible keynotes from all walks of life and business. @WILD_Summit tweeted less than 15 times during the whole event…

See my blog post from last year, “HOW TO LIVE TWEET AT AN INDUSTRY CONFERENCE – FIVE KEY CONSIDERATIONS” to better understand how little that is – especially at an event where every spoken sentence oozes with inspirational goodness.

So, crazy awesome live tweeting skills and the resulting increased brand awareness created by captive audiences sharing your narrative(s) online can create did not happen in 2014. What did grow was my motivation to do more – for myself, for this incredible organization, other women, you name it – I wanted to be better at everything and I was given the confidence to try by the event that day.

Immediately after the conference I took complete ownership over the messages the WILD Summit tweets, posts on Facebook or otherwise shares with its online networks. Having attended the event once, I better knew what the brand’s voice was and how to encapsulate it with posts that people would find value or inspiration in – The same sort of posts that I would find value or inspiration from.

At WILD III in 2015, #WILDsummit was seen online by over 10,000 social media users. (2016, 22K.)

WILD messages, lessons and stories shared that day reached more than 20x’s as many people who were actually in attendance. All of a sudden I had the attention and admiration of dozens of incredible female business owners that worked tirelessly to put the event on.

Between 2015 and 2016’s event I became the youngest committee chair member and was asked to put on several presentations on social media basics and live event considerations.

The potential impact of social media done right inspired these women to create their own accounts, better hone their skills and start really engaging on these platforms, both personally and for their businesses. Just as they had orchestrated the event that inspired me, I had orchestrated the social media strategy that inspired them and thousands of others to better spread the mission of the event.

I no longer work for the PR agency that introduced me to WILD, and they no longer do any Pro Bono work for the summit. Instead, I am a welcomed member of the committee with my own individual merit (with designated assistants and everything)! I continue to direct the social media as a volunteer, a much better way to do unpaid work than internships if you ask me, and I continue to be inspired to achieve greatness and help others achieve it too every year.

 

 

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