Sunday, February 14, 2010

Some Last Minute Loudoun Valentine's Day Treats

Valentine's Day gifts and last minute ideas, from local Dulles, Chantilly or Loudoun businesses:

Buy your hubby, love(s), significant other, etc. a:

Vintage 51 South Riding Restaurant Valentine's Day Dinner (and ice-warming beer!)

A new Loudoun Hot Tub or Pool Table (nice in the snow!)

A Loudoun Home Repair/Handyman Visit (to fix those gutter leaks!)

A Coupon for Loudoun replacement vinyl windows this Spring (now that we've seen what a blizzard can do!)

An appointment for some early spring cleaning and Loudoun junk removal, of that garage (still can't find all the old shovels and sleds?)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Internet, Online Chamber of Commerce - in the New Media Economy

The thought struck us last year, and again lately (with the rapid uptick in social media-driven local business economic development advocacy activities) - that a new (or extended) breed of "Chamber of Commerce" may be developing - the "Online Chamber of Commerce" or "New/Social Media Chamber of Commerce".

Sure, many traditional Chamber of Commerce institutions around the country are beginning to leverage social/new media to help attract, retain and empower their membership...but there exists a "business divide" in this model, in the form of paid membership requirements.

Most Chambers of Commerce require an annual membership fee for businesses and their representatives to participate - this covers in-person meeting venue costs, organization operating expenses, etc. Many Chambers offer "sliding scale" membership fees, i.e. reduced rates for smaller businesses; however, this fee hurdle in many cases is simply one that a lot of small businesses (in particular) can't afford or choose not to invest in. Therefore, such a Chamber may not truly and fully represent the interests of the entire business community, and its stakeholders.

There are, however, facets and benefits of typical Chamber membership that are more and more often able to be achieved through the use of online, public, free (or much lower cost) Internet new media - open to all. Online business networking, fund raising and information-sharing, for example. This sort of activity also may bring with it far more useful online promotion and marketing benefits than typical Chambers are able to deliver. (In our research, most Chambers in the DC region, for example, do not offer members the advantages of optimizing their online directory listings for search visibility, nor do they offer members opportunities for free promotion via contributory discussions, for example hosting a membership-generated "business articles" forum ).

Online, public, self-regulated groups have also proven adept in many ways, at achieving collective mass for purchase power, government advocacy and political influence - much like any Chamber of Commerce.

What does the future Chamber of Commerce look like, in this era of New Media and grass roots civil AND business advocacy? Does it evolve to embrace New Media, in a way that reduces expenses and opens the "tent", or does it focus, and establish a "business liaison network" with other grassroots (and free) off/online business advocacy groups?

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Competing for Buyers Starts Online - DC and Loudoun County Real Estate News

(Summary from the Washington Times):

"With so much information at buyers' fingertips, Realtors and homeowners are not only competing for buyers with the folks selling the house down the street, but also with hundreds of other sellers with similar homes. The process of narrowing the list of prospective homes used to consist of endless drive-bys but now can be accomplished with the click of a computer mouse.

...Kelly McLaughlan, chief executive of KME Internet Marketing in Northern Virginia, says, "It is absolutely essential for Realtors to maintain an active, integrated, multimedia online presence in order to attract new customers, engage current or potential clients, and establish themselves as reputable community leaders and local real estate experts."

She says it's all about professionally engaging clients in the online context with which they're comfortable, whether it's through their own Web sites, third-party Web sites or advertising venues or using social media.

"Maintaining your brand and reputation across all these channels is as important as distributing effective and appropriate listing advertising," she says.

Ms. McLaughlan adds that online buyers and sellers typically will review an agent's profile, community presence, knowledge and their listing inventory in less than 10 minutes and suggests that Realtors be "findable" across all outlets. She offers real estate agents and others a checklist on getting started promoting their business online ( "

Read more about DC and Northern Virginia Real Estate Online Marketing and Social Media....

Explore more Northern Virginia, Maryland, Prince William and Loudoun Real Estate opportunities, and Northern Virginia Real Estate information and news.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Loudoun Gold Line - Social Media-driven Economic Recovery

It's taken about a week for the energy and enthusiasm of the first "Big Ideas Big Action" (#BIBA) new media forum to sink into the sausage-making cavities of my unconscious, resulting in a far-too-typical 3 AM wake-up call to blog...but the ideas are percolating now as quickly as the coffee at this pre-snowpocalyptic-3 hour, and I'm thinking pink mixed with silver to make gold.

As you may know, the Dulles Metro "Silver Line" is finally now under construction, extending heavy rail service from East Falls Church out to Tysons Corner, Dulles Airport and eventually into Ashburn VA (Loudoun County) by 2016 or so. This significant investment in the region's economy is sure to sustain any long-lasting economic recovery trend that may be developing now, but it's still a ways off (though you might think it was coming a lot sooner from the proliferation of speculative real estate investment already visible along the Toll Road).

As you probably don't know, but should soon, the "Pink Line Project" is the wholesale revitalization of the DC art scene, a "catalyst for the culturally curious" - started by a BIBA guest speaker Philippa P.B. Hughes. Started as a series of local art "salons", the effort is now the trend-setting source of information and events for emerging art collectors, art enthusiasts and artists. What's also relevant here is the extensive use of DC social media channels to collect, relay and discuss Pink Line happenings.

This emerging theme of regional business and cultural revitalization on the heels of a lousy economy and global-warming induced weather patterns, lubricated by a rapidly-maturing social media ecology, is taking shape even here in Loudoun - at the very ends of the Silver and Pink Lines, and far afield from the "H Street Project". I'll borrow apologetically but thoughtfully from Philippa, and call this the "Gold Line Project".

What's happening is the awakening and convergence of business and cultural leaders in person and online to collectively share and leverage new media assets, in a long-overdue effort to seriously promote Loudoun County as prime investment other words, bring your business, your organization, your family and your dollars (i.e. "heads in beds") here to the end of the Silver Line, but no need to wait for the train. This is taking shape (informally in concert with our grass roots "Made in Loudoun" online awareness campaign) as the Economic Development Commission's new "Loudoun Social Media Subcommittee".

Created in 1995 by Loudoun’s Board of Supervisors, the Economic Development Commission (EDC) is a public/private partnership responsible for promoting the county’s economic development. Its membership includes a wide range of local business and community leaders, volunteering their time on committees such as the "Marketing and Business Retention Committee" (MBRC) to, among other things, help "coordinate economic development and marketing activities among groups in the county". Its association with the Loudoun government, through the Department of Economic Development, is a different structure than that of the comparable institution to our east, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (i.e. EDA, which is a fully non-governmental institution).

Lately there's been a lot of discussion regarding whether Loudoun should move from the EDC to EDA structure to help attract businesses to the County, enabling infusion of private-sector funds and operation with an incentive-based pay-structure, outside of the control of the BOS. Regardless of the outcome, it's apparent that some change is necessary in these entities, and closer coordination with the parallel activities of the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce and Loudoun Convention & Visitors Association.

Change in fact, is evolving quickly beyond the Silver Line - to the Gold Line - with the EDA's submersion of its constituents and stakeholders into the local and regional social media ecology. If you'd like to participate in this "project", helping bring investment and economic recovery to our pre-Silver Line Loudoun (and eventually perhaps an exurbia extension of the Pink Line) - get involved. Join the LinkedIn "Loudoun" group. Follow and support Loudoun DED-related activities and initiatives. Use your own new media assets and online business networking skills to promote the County and its wealth of cultural and community assets.


Saturday, February 06, 2010

Phew - it's over - 2010 Loudoun Snowpocalypse2

Being thankful that our power stayed on, it was pretty fun (and sobering) monitoring the tweet-streams ( for real-time updates on hashtags #snowpocalypse, #snowmageddon, #snowtoriousBIG, #snOMG, etc.

We got just about 30 inches here in our South Riding, Loudoun County the big dig begins, as does many more days of children with cabin-fever...

Snowpocalypse2 DC Feb 2010 Loudoun County 9

Snowpocalypse2 DC Feb 2010 Loudoun County 15

Snowpocalypse2 DC Feb 2010 Loudoun County 1

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