Without a doubt, community engagement is critical for every small business. No business can succeed without the support of others. Although branching out and creating a lasting impression can be challenging, there are many ways to get involved with your community. Plus, if done effectively, community engagement will be the absolute key to a thriving business model.

First of all, helping out those in your community is a genuinely good thing to do. A reciprocal relationship between your business and community is the ideal way to become a household name. Helping, however, must be authentic. If you’re unsure, a good place to start is to support causes to which you have a personal connection.
Once you are involved in local causes, it’s a great place to network and gain visibility for your business. People will get to know your character and work ethic. Think of recognition as a bonus to helping your community grow and flourish. Involvement also nurtures natural relationships between you and members of your community which will translate into a strong supporter base. It is much more likely that you will gain loyal customers through personal interactions rather than being just another name or business. Strong customer bases create stronger communities.  
Community engagement is also a fantastic opportunity for team building among your staff. In many ways, it’s a practice run for conduct and communication skills in a work setting. Volunteering or hosting events allows people to get to know each other. If your team works well together and creates a positive, helpful environment, then the customer experience will reflect that.
Here are some ideas of how you can involve your small business in the community:

  • Sponsor a charity event
  • Host a field trip
  • Have a contest/giveaway (gratitude for your customers is always a good practice)
  • Attend community meetings
  • Throw a BBQ
  • Have a charity bake sale
  • Organize a clothing/food/supplies drive
  • Work with local school programs (i.e. create an internship program, student-friendly jobs)
  • Partner with other local businesses
  • Promote healthy habits (i.e. host a ‘community clean-up’ event for environmental awareness)
  • Teach  a class/educational workshop (about your business, local issues, cooking/baking, art etc.)
  • Host a potluck
  • Sponsor local sports, musicians, artists etc.

Once you have a presence in your local community, advertising your business and promoting it will come naturally. The key is to be a genuine member of your community who is not only willing to help others but wants the community and its members to thrive. Build that loyal base and you’re set!
By Juliana Schneider