When Jenna Oltersdorf and her husband Eric made the decision to relocate from Chicago to Austin to be closer to family, they had no idea that Twitter would help propel them ahead in both their business and professional lives.
Jenna and Eric are the owners of SnackBox, a public relations and design firm, now headquartered in Austin, Texas. They founded and grew the company in Chicago, but the desire to be closer to family lead them to Austin, where Eric's sister and her husband are raising two young children. Jenna is an only child and Eric has the one sister, so being part of their family and seeing their nephew and niece grow up meant being in Austin.
Jenna originally joined Twitter in January 2009 with the thought that it would be a marketing and PR tool for their company. She soon realized that it was really more about communications and relationships, and instead of selling herself, she began to engage people in discussion. Her outgoing personality made her a natural for Twitter, and she soon was creating conversations and expanding her network.
She had grown up in the close knit culture of St. Louis. When you spend your whole life around the same people you establish a natural network. You don't have to think about it, as it just happens. But moves to both Charlotte, NC and Chicago taught her the importance of cultivating relationships and actively seeking to make real connections. People do business with those they know, like and trust... so a new move would mean starting over in building an inner-circle.
In the spring of 2009, when the decision to come to Austin became official, Jenna began searching out Twitter's most active Austin voices. She introduced herself, listened, watched, and instigated dialogues with Austinites. As the moving date arrived she began to reach out to her Austin Twitter friends in search of service providers that could help the couple successful execute the move. Most important was finding a lawyer who could help them incorporate the business in their new state. She queried Twitter and quickly found a great attorney.
(Side not to all those in the legal profession who are crying that Twitter is a waste of time. This is an example of how networking works. Her lawyer did not have to even be on Twitter to get this referral. Instead, he just had to know someone willing to take the time to answer Jenna's request for an introduction!!!)
She also started polling people on what business and networking organizations would make the most sense for her to affiliate with after they arrived. She has been in Austin less than a month and already is getting involved with Leadership Austin's Engage Program and serves on the board of a local non-profit.
Not only did they provide a long list of business services, her new Twitter friends also shared other interesting Austin factoids and recommended restaurants, best areas to shop, dentists, doctors, and real estate agents (The Oltersdorfs did not need a real estate agent, as Eric's brother-in-law is Clayton Bullock of Moreland Properties, one of Austin's top agents!).
Since she got to Austin Jenna's calendar has been full, as her local Twitter Friends are actively signing up to meet her face-to-face.
I spent an hour with her today at the Starbucks in Westlake and found her to be blessed with a double dose of entrepreneurial spirit. She is excited about growing her company in the city where she expects to live for the rest of her life. While she was not born in Austin, she has that "can - do" attitude that makes this community special.
Additionally she has that "givers gene" that leads to success and win/win for everyone. I have found many people talk about it, but few people (maybe 5%???) really go out of their way to take actions to help others as a natural part of how they do business. Jenna is one of those people! I predict we see big things from Snackbox over the next few years.
I would like to extend a TEXAS SIZED welcome our newest neighbors, friends, and Austinites!! Eric and Jenna Oltersdorf - I wish you much success in Austin!! (I have not yet met Eric, but look forward to meeting him). I got here 18 years ago and have never looked back. I hope that the city is as wonderful of a place for your family as it has been for mine.
You can follow Jenna on Twitter at @JennaSnacks
Have A Great Day.