Connecting with Your Community

Lia Fialho

Being a small business owner presents its own array of challenges. Amongst these is the need to connect with your community. Every community is different and has its own individual personality. Once you learn the quirks and qualities that make up your district, you can take various steps to connect. Creating a lasting relationship with the locals will foster a positive work and living environment.

The first step to connecting with your community is to make yourself and your company known. If there are any events, fundraisers, or get togethers going on, don’t be shy! Attend some of these and start connecting with the members of your community. People will feel more comfortable if they can pair a face to the company. Go out there and make it known that you care about the community and that it is something you want to be a part of. Do some research and find out what the culture of your community is. Learn about the people and the society and find out what makes this particular community unique. By making this little gesture, you are already creating a connection. 

Another way that you can connect with your community is by hosting events or sponsoring a local group. Depending on the type of business that you are operating, you could physically host events at your location. Whether it be fundraisers or board meetings, opening up your doors will show those in the community that you care. If this is not a possibility, no need to worry! Partner up with the local schools and offer to sponsor a team or group. This not only builds a connection but also promotes your business and makes your company name a familiar one around town. Members within a community like to feel connected to their local businesses. Offering to sponsor a children’s sports team or a high school club is one way weave yourself into the community web. 

People love the feeling of belonging. One way to help others connect with your business is by creating loyalty programs. This attracts people to your business and promotes temporary relationships to the long-term. If loyalty programs aren’t an appropriate route to take, then you can create mentorship opportunities within the business. Offer internships for local students or host career days where local schools can learn more about what your business does. Students love field trips and this helps to spread information about who you are. 

Chances are you aren’t the only small business in the area. Look around and reach out to some of the other businesses. Host events together or sponsor existing events with other organizations. This can be something like a fundraiser or charity event. Whether it be a tournament, 5k, bake sale, auction, or BBQ (always a success because everyone loves food), this will be a fun way to engage your community and build a relationship with other businesses.. Create an inclusive and friendly culture with the businesses in your town. It is always beneficial to work with people different than yourself. Even if the other businesses are centered around different lines of work, it will prove beneficial to be exposed to new ideas and perceptions. This will also be a good learning experience for you and your team because it is always a challenge to work with others. However, once you reach out and work to build these connections, you will find the end result to be lasting partnerships and healthy relationships with the businesses and individuals within your community. 

Connecting with your community takes a little bit of time. Don’t worry if it doesn’t happen right away, because every community is different. If you have to, take a step out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s donating to a local charity or sponsoring a local team, those within the community will be happy to see you and your company making an effort. Be patient, and give it some time. Eventually people within the community will recognize your name as you become an active part of the community your company serves. 

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