Innovative and Creative Business Entrepreneurs and Leaders Club Spotlight – An Interview with Dr. Michelle Post and Nicole Poff

Innovative and Creative Business Entrepreneurs and Leaders Club Spotlight – An Interview with Dr. Michelle Post and Nicole Poff

Ashford University’s Innovative and Creative Business Entrepreneurs and Leaders Club (ICBEL) was originally established as an informational LinkedIn group for students, alumni, faculty, and friends interested in topics of leadership, entrepreneurship, and service management. Faculty advisors include Business Leadership Program Chair Dr. Andree Swanson,  Entrepreneurship Program Chair Dr. Paula Zobisch, and Service Management Program Chair Dr. Patricia Ryan. 

In the two years since its inception, the online student organization has grown to over 500 members. However, ICBEL initially struggled with attendance and participation. In an effort to grow the club, Dr. Swanson recently invited professional social media consultant Dr. Michelle Post and Ashford’s career services resource designer Nicole Poff to join the leadership committee. We chatted with Post and Poff about their experiences with ICBEL thus far, as well as their visions for expansion in the coming year.

Ashford: What is the most exciting part about being involved in the organization’s leadership? 

Poff: Something I appreciate about this club is the vision and passion brought by Dr. Swanson. It’s clear that her decisions are driven by one goal: student success. She is constantly trying to figure out new skills and tools the students in this club might need and then finding industry leaders to discuss those topics.

Dr. Post: I enjoy being part of the leadership for its willingness to be innovative and use technology to enhance a learning environment. 

Ashford: Speaking of technology, what online platforms do you use to communicate with members? 

Dr. Post: ICBEL uses LinkedIn, and we will begin to use Zoom this year to offer [monthly] 40-minute workshops. Some of the topics might be: How to use a LinkedIn Group for your Referral and Networking Group; The Power of Others; Collaboration is the new 21st-century Currency; and topics on innovation, technology, networking, and more. 

Poff: Dr. Post also reveals tips related to other platforms such as Pinterest and Facebook. As entrepreneurs in a digital era, many of our students will need to know how these platforms operate in efforts to market their own businesses. 

Ashford: How might joining the club contribute to a student's overall experience at Ashford? 

Dr. Post: Joining the club "forces" students to create a LinkedIn account, which is a must have. If a student graduates with a degree without having a fully optimized LinkedIn account, then I believe as an educator we are failing them. Ninety-eight percent of recruiters go to LinkedIn first when researching a job applicant.

Poff: Joining a student club gives you that connection to your peers that is sometimes hard to achieve in an online classroom. It is a great thing to add to your resume to show employers that you plugged into your school.

Ashford: What advantages or challenges do prospective and current business leaders face in today’s largely virtual business environment? How does ICBEL address, or plan to address, these issues?

Dr. Post: The biggest advantage for a business using digital is its ability to reach more people. It becomes word-of-mouth marketing. The biggest challenge is to know what you need and then use it. Most businesses do not know what they have, what they need, and then how to use their systems and tools effectively to run their business. ICBEL hopes to address these issues by showing, through weekly postings and educational webinars, the path to becoming a successful entrepreneur and leader.

Poff: It’s also valuable from a networking perspective. You get to network with your peers, but you also learn best practices. As an entrepreneur and business leader, there are often many challenges you need to overcome, and this is a great place to learn what others are doing and how they are solving these same problems.

Ashford: Can you share some examples of this content that illustrate the value of membership?

Dr. Post: Many different types of value-added articles have been shared, including these recent titles:

Ashford: Besides the new monthly Zoom workshops, are there any other notable projects in the works for 2019?

Dr. Post: The addition of concise weekly video posts. While the Zoom workshops will be value-added learning, the weekly posts could be a combination of "learning bytes" and "motivational moments." One video that I was thinking of doing is the formula for writing a LinkedIn summary. This is just one piece of a powerful profile, and one of the most critical pieces, but poorly executed by most LinkedIn users.

Ashford: What would you say to encourage someone who is interested in joining ICBEL?

Dr. Post: I cannot stress enough that everyone, no matter their experience level, has something to offer to this group. Each person is uniquely gifted, and it is their responsibility to use those gifts to add value to others. We need one another, and this group is a great starting place. We build it as a safe, encouraging, and empowering networking community.

Poff: We take the success of our students seriously and want to continue to feed them relevant skills and tools that will make them valuable in the business environment.

Want to Join the ICBEL Community?

As of now, there are no specific requirements for ICBEL membership other than having a passion for business, leadership, entrepreneurship, service management, and networking. Joining the community is as simple as requesting access through the LinkedIn group page and jumping into any conversation that piques your interest. Become a member today and start sharing and learning with your peers today.

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Written by Ashford University staff

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