Small Business and Community Investment: How to Build Your Business Neighborhood
Guest post from Sacha Ferrandi, the owner and founder of Source Capital Funding, Inc. With over 12 years of experience owning and operating a small business for real estate, Sacha is an expert in business development, lending for real estate, and networking.
Business networking is a critical component of any small business. It breathes life into your company through passion, connections, and new opportunities. In turn, networking provides a platform to learn and support other businesses and their owners, who one day, may be able to help you as well.
Many small business owners often master the art of networking with potential clients and industry professionals. While this is effective, by limiting the networking scope to a select entitled few, business owners are doing themselves and their communities a great disservice by missing out on an important component to the networking cycle: The Greater Business Community
Small Businesses can leverage networking to connect with and support unrelated businesses in their neighborhood. Many companies miss this wonderful opportunity to connect to, uplift, and promote one another.
By widening your networking scope, you gain exposure to untapped markets. No matter how removed from your industry a person or company may be, he or she may be a business marketing angel in disguise. Furthermore, from broad-scope networking comes neighborhood income growth, community integration, and higher home values, just to start.
Finding it difficult to break outside of your networking comfort zone? Try these unique, helpful and powerfully effective ways to increase your exposure while also lifting up your community.
Host A Happy Hour Networking Event
Hosting a networking event is perfect for learning more about your business neighbors and building relationships. From time management advice, to a marketing focus, create an engaging, mutually beneficial event for you and your attendees:
- Skip the sales pitches and just be yourself. Your goal to is meet and get to know your fellow business owners. Save the sales for business hours.
- Request one of your attendees to speak at your event about a topic your guests can benefit from. If possible to keep the talk unique to your community or local business trends.
- Inviting your guests to host the next event will help keep the networking momentum going and allow for greater involvement and participation within the group.
- Take feedback for future events.
Extend Referral Discounts to The Community
Visit the local businesses in your area and introduce yourself. Tell them about your company, and let the owner know that they, their employees, and customers are welcome to receive a discount for anyone that mentions the business name. To make the offer more personal and beneficial, consider the following tips:
- Offer compensation, or a special incentive for promotion for the business owner and employees if they send business your way.
- Ask the owner to provide you with cards, brochures or materials you can hand out for them, as well as any information about specials they are promoting. This is a great marketing tip as well, as any business that you connect has great potential to generate leads.
Supply Community Volunteer Involvement
By offering up your employees the option to volunteer in your community, your city gets much needed help, and your business does too. Your employee volunteers are taking part in a form of employee-based marketing. Employee volunteering adds a human element to your business that can help strengthen a good reputation, and generate leads for your business. To create useful and rewarding events for your employees, following key guidelines can make each venture a success:
- In your conversations with local business owners and non-profits, make a point to ask if they accept volunteers. Then ask yourself how your business can be of most help.
- Make a varied list of volunteer opportunities for your employees, then allow your employees to pick and choose events and projects that highlight their interests and talents. This makes volunteer time more rewarding for both the volunteers and the companies they choose to serve.
- Organize the volunteer time to suit your business needs and the needs of your employees. Respect your employees’ schedules and their availability during work hours, and clarify whether the volunteer service will be paid or unpaid, and during work or personal time.
- Offer incentives for employees that bring new business or helpful contacts generated from the volunteering experience.
- Build solid connections. Remind staff to introduce themselves, and meet as many new people as they can during their volunteer work. Through the numerous connections, you may even find your next intern, or part-time employee.
Donate to a Different Local Business Charity Each Month
Whether it’s assisting underprivileged youth, offering free legal assistance, or feeding the needy, business charities are often at the core of every thriving community. Supporting these valuable community resources allows you to contribute directly to uplifting your community while also gaining exposure and credibility in the process. Here are some key tips when considering your monthly contribution:
- Keep the charities local. Your donations help bring your business brand to the people you can directly serve in your area. Use location to your advantage.
- Request a highlight in the charity’s newsletter. This can lend you some good exposure in return for your donation.
- Remember to save receipts. Your business receives tax benefits for every donation. With the free marketing and tax benefit, you may have even offset your donation in entirety.
Highlight A Different Local Business On Your Website Each Month
The other businesses in your area need positive exposure just as much as you. The good exposure karma goes a long way, and often when you least expect it. Whether your feature highlight is a blog post about a great dinner from a local restaurant, or a tweet about a local industry’s great product, any positive exposure for your fellow businesses owners is worthwhile for two key reasons:
- This project will communicate to your potential clients your willingness to support and engage positively with your community. This builds brand trust.
- The monthly features create the likelihood of your business being promoted in the community by other businesses. You can even reach out to other businesses and offer to do a ‘promotion swap’.
Although networking is a critical piece to your business and its success, the rules for a successful outcome are far from hard and fast. In fact, the best form of networking comes not from a script or a formula but from an intent to give and receive genuine value and support in your relationships with your fellow business owners toward the goal of continued growth for all.
Please let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or comments.
Born in Spain and raised in California, Sacha Ferrandi is the owner and founder of Source Capital Funding, Inc. With over 12 years of experience owning and operating a small business for real estate, Sacha is an expert in business development, lending for real estate, and networking.
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