Small business owners sometimes think that it’s impossible for them to connect with people in their communities because their schedules and budgets limit their promotional options. Yet, any type of time or money investment, no matter how small, is worth the effort. People are more prone to remember businesses that invest in the community in some way and seek out those same businesses for products and services. Investing in making these connections sometimes results in incredible tax benefits as well. Consider the following four ways you can build stronger community ties:
One of the fastest ways to connect with people in your community is by hosting events that benefit them. For example, you might set up networking socials where local business leaders and workers can meet and exchange ideas and contact details. You might host a job fair that not only features positions within your business, but also local ones from other area businesses. If you have room in your budget, you might host arts and crafts or children’s programs. Some small businesses even host community entertainment events, such as art and music festivals and summer plays in the park, or offer heavily discounted tickets to entertainment venues that they also sponsor.
People usually talk fondly to others about area business leaders and workers who volunteer in the community. They also connect more strongly with a business when they personally know specific individuals who work at it. You can create these strong connections by arranging volunteer days in your community where you and your employees perform trash cleanup, volunteer in nonprofit programs or help out at a local community center. To motivate employees to participate, you only need to set up an awards program that gives them some sort of recognition for their volunteer efforts, such as a physical award or end-of-year dinner, or a perk like schedule flexibility or extra time off.
Donations to good causes always create positive buzz and free publicity. Individuals and nonprofit representatives regularly talk about donors in their social and professional networks, on their websites, in newsletters and interviews and at public events. A donation might consist of items or money. For example, you might donate computers or equipment that you no longer need to a local school or library or buy something for the community that can benefit everyone, such as a public park or playground equipment. Another possibility: Check out the wide range of corporate donation opportunities in your local area online. Direct financial donations are always welcome because recipients can distribute the funds where they need them the most.
After natural and man-made emergency events, such as earthquakes, dangerous weather conditions, political unrest or train derailments, people become loyal to businesses that provided them with relief in the form of products, services or money. They most often best remember the ones that provided branded items because they connect the business logo in the future with the positive feelings generated by receiving aid after a terrifying experience or hardship. For example, you might provide branded emergency medical kits to local residents after a natural disaster. When bad weather strikes, such as extreme cold or hot temperatures, you might turn your business into a temporary shelter, offer products or services that can benefit the community for free or provide people with other types of items that can alleviate their suffering.
It is possible for small businesses to build lasting relationships with community members. You merely need to make certain that people regularly see and hear about you and your employees performing uplifting acts that show that you care. Many of the outlined methods again involve time and money investments. That said, as you can see, investing in your community in these ways often results in a fantastic return on investment. By making these types of connections, you can increase new leads, foot traffic, daily sales and repeat business.
Emma is a freelance writer based out of Boston, MA. She writes most often on health and education. When not writing, she enjoys reading and watching film noir. Say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2