Digital Sisterhood Leadership Project Profile – Akilah Richards


Photo Credit: Akilah Richards

Meet Digital Sisterhood Leader Akilah Richards.

1) How can people find you online?

2) Why did you start using social media?

I started using social media in 2007 when I began blogging to connect with other 20 something working mothers.

3) What has social media allowed you to do in your life (personal, professional, business, nonprofit, community)?

Social media helped me find my wings as an entrepreneur.  I learned how to connect with women on a global scale, and I started to value my voice more as a result of the connections with other inspiring men and women.

4) In her 2011 Digital Women: from geeks to mainstream presentation that was given at the WIFT International Women Conference for Digital Women, Dr. Taly Weiss, a social psychologist and CEO/Founder of Trendspotting, concluded that “women are dominant digital users – they breathe and live digital.”  Dr. Weiss’ conclusion echoes BlogHer’s 2011 Social Media Matters Study findings.  They include 87 million women (18 to 76 years old) are now online, 69 million women use social media weekly, 80 million women use social media monthly, and 55 million women read blogs monthly. These facts illustrate the power and presence women have in the digital space. Now that’s Digital Sisterhood!

How has social media helped you carve out leadership roles as you interact online and offline?

When I started blogging, I had no idea it would lead to my current business as a Lifestyle Entrepreneur.  As I perused blogs and timelines, I began to see patterns in the needs of women with interests similar to mine.  I allowed my curiosity to guide me, and eventually, I created an online space for women like me who believe in designing our own lives, and creating community for other women looking to do the same.  My first major opportunity to share my lifestyle perspectives came when I was featured in Essence Magazine’s “How She Does It” segment.  After that article ran, I started to take my voice more seriously in the online space, and created a new site and products to support women on their own Life Design journeys.

5) Social media has helped women become Digital Sisterhood Leaders, ambassadors of social expression who share what they are passionate about online.  In her upcoming book, Digital Sisterhood: Fierce Living Online for 25 Years (Fall 2012), Ananda Leeke, founder of the Digital Sisterhood Network, writes, “Without even knowing it, women have become Digital Sisterhood Leaders as they use their social media platforms to advocate causes; to build communities; to create apps, art, books, businesses, products, publications, services, tools, and webisodes; to curate content; to educate and inform; to give voice to their thoughts as subject matter experts, thought leaders, and brand ambassadors; to share information and experiences; to explore and experiment with new technologies as early adopters and trendsetters; to engage in social good; to influence others with their lifestyles and personal interests; to inspire and motivate; to mentor; to network; to tell their personal stories; and to promote and celebrate the expertise, gifts, and talents of others.  Based on my online and offline interactions, I have identified 12 key leadership roles they play: advocate, community builder, creator, curator, educator, influencer, mentor, motivator, promoter, social do gooder, storyteller, and thought leader.”

What other types of leadership roles do women play in social media?

I think Ananda has covered the ones I’m aware of.

6) What types of leadership roles do you play in social media?

My goal is to facilitate self-exploration and self-expression through my interactions online.  We as women can lead online by facilitating conversations that allow other voices to be heard, shared, and hopefully valued.

7) What lessons have you learned as a leader in the digital space?

I continue to be amazed by the caliber of women who occupy this online space.  I frequent blogs of women who clearly give so much of themselves to their readers, and it’s inspiring and empowering to be able to connect with them.  I’ve also learned not to underestimate my own voice, value, and skills as my “common knowledge” could be brand new information to someone else.

8) Do you have plans to expand your leadership roles in the digital space? If so, what are they?

Yes. I’ll eventually host digital conferences for women, mothers, and entrepreneurs.

9) Who are your favorite social media women leaders and why?

Arielle Loren because she’s big on self-expression and exploration.  Ananda Leeke *smiles* because she makes it a point to facilitate conversation around our roles as digital entrepreneurs.  Rosetta Thurman because she gives incredible value!  Katrina M. Harrell because she’s so inspiring, and her webinars could easily cost $1,000 an hour because that’s how much value she offers.  There are so many others in this space, and it’s a pleasure to be part of their journeys

10) Share three ways women can use social media to define and express their personal leadership brand.

Women can use social media to define and express their personal leadership brands by:

  • Hosting webinars to share their insights and offer their relevant services.
  • Facilitating conversation through their blogs or micro-blogs.
  • Observing how their audience responds to certain topics, and applying that knowledge in the form of free and paid offerings for their growing tribe.

 

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