If you have a store or office, are you taking strides to become part of your small business community? Do locals know about your business and tell others about it? Finding ways to be a known member of your community can help you grow your business.
The easiest way to get to know the people who run businesses in your town (as well as potential customers) is to join networking groups. Your local Chamber of Commerce is a great place to start. You can also look at industry groups, although those often aren’t the best place to meet a variety of people or potential clients.
Attend regular meetings. Offer to speak at a meeting, to let people know what your company is all about. Volunteer to help out with events. The more active and involved you can be, the better you’ll get to know people in your town.
Jump Into Events
Events are a great opportunity for your company to brand itself. If there’s a community fair, sponsor a booth and hand out candy and marketing collateral. Talk to attendees. You can also hold your own event, and invite other businesses to participate. For example, if you run a marketing firm, you could host a one-day business expo and invite a graphic designer to speak, as well as a business coach.
Promote all community events — even the ones you don’t participate in — in your store or location. Send an email to your contacts letting them know that you’ll be involved.
If you want to feel like part of your community, give back to it. Donate money to charity (you can tie donations to sales, such as “for every tie sold, we will donate $1 to the cancer fund.”) or hold a toy drive. Offer free classes or samples of your products. Donate products to charity auctions. Let nonprofits and other organizations know that you’re there to support the community. Find groups that have causes that you personally are passionate about, and support those.
Small businesses have to support one another in order to thrive. Embrace your local small business community to show your support and dedication to its success.
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Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s written two books: 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites, including The Marketing Eggspert Blog, as well as Mashable, Small Business Trends, FutureSimple, BizLaunch andLead411. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.