Ict@innovation: Free your IT Business in Africa/3-3

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Module 3.3 Online Advocacy tools[edit]

Duration[edit]

0:45hrs

Delivery method[edit]

For instructional purpose, it is advised that trainers/lectures use lectures, punctuated with short debates as a major means of delivering this module. In addition presentations and exercises are also suitable method of delivery for this module.

Introduction[edit]

Now more than ever, people are coming together—in coalitions or organizations—to harness the power of technology for policy change. This new Internet-based approach to advocacy—electronic advocacy (e-advocacy)—is a multifaceted process that uses an array of technology tools, tailored to specific campaign goals.  More fittingly, “Your Guide to the E-Advocacy Revolution[#_edn2 [ii]]”, published by the PolicyLink project (http://www.policylink.org) cites examples of organizations that have used e-advocacy to reach “hard to reach” communities; organize for mass mobilization; strengthen their offline tactics (such as tabling, rallying, and protest marches); reach out to media; connect to more supporters for online donations; and target decision-makers, rapidly and forcefully, to pass or defeat proposed legislation.

In addition to case studies, this report is loaded with technology tips to create an advocacy website, format emails and newsletters for maximum effectiveness, and connect to audiences and enable supporter action. It also examines barriers and opportunities for organizations that want to integrate technology into their communications strategies, and a detailed list of technology vendors.

Definition: E-advocacy is a revolutionizing force for advocates to increase pressure for policy change. And it is happening, one click at a time.

Technology tools[edit]

A core set of technology tools are at the heart of successful e-advocacy campaigns. These include databases for storing contact information and data about audiences and supporters; websites and content management systems for presenting information and updating it on a regular basis; email tools for conducting outreach communications to online audiences; and a variety of supplementary technology tools that facilitate different ways of engaging supporters to put pressure on decision-makers.

We want to help you quickly retrieve some helpful technology tips, with just a couple of clicks.  Section three describes the technological tools that can be used in e-Advocacy, Technology Tools: What They Are, What They Do, Where to Get Them, to help you get started in the e-advocacy revolution. The chapter describes each of these components:

Website: Provides suggestions for content sections on an advocacy website and tools to create an effective online presence.

Email: Gives pointers for contacting audiences through email newsletters and action alerts and for designing email messages.

Creating content for a Website: Describes blogs, online video and Flash™ animation, and Pod casting.

Tools to Connect to Audiences and Enable Supporter Action:  Details the many technology tools that are used to inform supporters and mobilize action.

Technology Tools and Strategic Service Providers: Describes various industry providers of technology tools and services and highlights some of their key differences

Networking building coalition[edit]

Definition: Networking is the art of making and utilizing contacts.

The goal of networking is to create a pool of people and information that can directly increase the quality of your product or service, decrease customer attrition, and, most importantly, leave your competition wondering how you won a job they never knew was available.

Many small business owners don't want to network because they think its about shoving your business card in someone's hand and boasting about what you do. In fact, networking is actually about getting to know people whom you can help and who can help you. If anything, the first natural instinct any business, big and small should learn is how to establish and sustain good business contacts, nationally and internationally.

The SME tool kit for Kenya [#_ftn1 [1]] reported the work of Steven M. Krauser, President of Network Associates, Hicksville, N.Y., who contends that most business people don't know how to make networking an effective business tool. "If the result of your networking is a stack of business cards in your top right hand desk drawer and not a lot of additional business, then it may be time for you to re-evaluate your methods", he notes.

Krauser says small business owners should approach meeting people using two goals: get to know as many people as possible, and get them to know you. He then recommends the following four steps to make your networking work:

Give and get information[edit]

Networking is a two-way street. When you meet someone, you want to ask them about their business and tell them about yours. Start with the basics - name, company, affiliation, position, nature of business, etc. You next want to find out if you can benefit each other. Try covering these topics:

  1. What does your company do?
  2. What types of clients do you serve?
  3. Who makes the buying decision within a firm for each of your services and/or products?
  4. What sets you apart from your competition?

Evaluate the value of the contact[edit]

You can't network thoroughly with everyone. Once you have the preliminary information, you need to decide if this person is worth meeting again and creating a relationship with. Can you help them and can they help you? The answer should be "yes" to both.

Another criterion is to look for people who are truly interested in helping others solve a problem, no strings attached. In other words, don't think of yourself as a net-worker but as a problem solver, and look for those same characteristics in someone you will consider adding to your personal network.

Form a strategic alliance[edit]

A network is not a collection of business cards, but of people. Take the time to understand the business of those in your network. If you've chosen members wisely, this should be a pleasure. And make sure that you educate them completely about what you do and whom you do it with. Give each other updates and encouragement. In effect, you become each others' sales people.

Remember that the purpose of networking is not to get your contact's business; instead, you're trying to get business from everyone this person knows.

You should also be able to turn to those in your network for management ideas, advice, leads, even vendor recommendations. You will learn from each other and contribute to each others growth, both in terms of profit and performance.

Maintenance[edit]

As your contact base grows, you have to re-evaluate the people in your information loop. Practice effective time management skills and prioritize your contacts. You will want to get in touch most often with those that can be most useful to you. They will become your inner circle.

Be careful never to burn bridges; you never know when someone will be able to help you, or when you will be able to help them. If you feel as though someone is not useful to you right now, you still will want to check in with them now and again, because they may become important down the road. In other words, be nice to everybody because you never know where they'll show up.

Module 3.3: ASSESSMENT[edit]

Assignment 1: Visit the websites for each of the case studies in Module 2 and comment on how well they have presented their companies online.

Assignment 2: Use the table below to provide a contact list which may be useful for operating a FOSS business in your country


FOSS contact list
Country:.............................              Region:........................................
Name of organization Type/Function Contact person Comments

Assignment 3: List as many (1) FOSS organization, including Linux User Groups (LUGs) and (2) Companies in your country. For each category state the website where applicable.


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