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Social Media Expert Speaks to Aspiring Entrepreneurs at Strome Center

To a room-full of students at Old Dominion University's Strome Entrepreneurial Center, many of whom are aspiring entrepreneurs, local social media marketing expert Matt Paddock offered words of reassurance, in a different sort of way.

Surveys of young students nationwide suggest the idea of being an entrepreneur is preferable to working for an established company or organization. The process can be daunting and unsettled, certainly far less predictable than a job with a large firm.

But Paddock, director of engagement for Norfolk's award-winning, interactive marketing and advertising studio Grow, said that fact that entrepreneurship is so different every day is part of its appeal.

"Grow is as entrepreneurial as you can get. We're literally making it up as we go," Paddock told the crowd of more than 100 at ODU's Strome Entrepreneurial Center on Thursday, Feb. 5.

Paddock came to in 2013 after 12 years as director of social strategy and public relations at Dominion Enterprises. With Grow, Paddock is helping transform the digital experience across multiple platforms - in websites, online ads, viral marketing, social networking and device applications.

Based in downtown Norfolk, but serving a worldwide client base, Grow is a digital agency with a passion for big ideas, little details, and a better approach to creating world-class interactive experiences. Grow's clients include brands such as Google, HBO, FedEx, Doritos and BFGoodrich.

Paddock's talk was part of a regular series put together by the Strome Entrepreneurial Center, designed to bring local entrepreneurs and experts to campus, many of whom are Old Dominion University alumni. It's all part of the innovative co-curricular program being created at the Center, which was created through an $11-million gift from the Strome Family Foundation.

Paddock used LinkedIn for his talk, demonstrating how a simple, free social media site can be a valuable resource for an entrepreneur.

The world's largest professional network, LinkedIn is a significant tool used for networking in the corporate world. Paddock pointed out that since today's generation of soon-to-be graduates are operating as the "CEO of me," it's important to leverage LinkedIn to its full effect.

Showing some ways that users can create networks and find prospective employers or customers, Paddock told the ODU students that self-marketing is key. "These are the kinds of things that will draw people to you. Use words that pertain to you," he said.

That the whole point of social media is that "people make things on them," so Paddock said why not make these social networks work for supporting your idea?

The Strome Entrepreneurial Center will host a series of these workshops throughout the semester, designed to inform and inspire prospective entrepreneurs at any stage of the entrepreneurial process, which is the center's main mission.

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