Serve Your Community and Build Your Business

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    By Caterina Rando, MA, MCC

    I spoke to a new business owner today. Two months ago, Joan launched her meeting planning company. Two weeks into her new business, she signed her first contract with her first client. To get that client, she called the four organizations with whom she had volunteered. This is a great example of how involvement in your community can result in business.

    As a speaker, I set aside one or two days a month for donated speeches to community groups. Once, I gave a speech to a high school class of at-risk teenagers. In the room was a school volunteer from a major corporation.
    Soon, I had a contract to speak at her company.

    Part of strategic marketing is using non-traditional marketing vehicles, and finding ways to build your sphere of influence without having to send out a mailing or pass out your brochures. Community involvement is a valuable marketing opportunity that is often overlooked. While you are giving back to the community, you also feed your soul, participate in a great opportunity for personal growth, have a lot of fun, and meet people it can be good for your bottom line as well. People like to do business with companies that care about their communities. This creates a good feeling about you and about your business.

    Many community service based organizations are looking for small and large companies to get involved. Habitat for Humanity, The Red Cross, The Salvation Army all want you.

    To be strategic about the time you spend volunteering, identify what you think your clients care about or ask yourself if there is a niche market you would like to be more involved with that could use some help. Set aside a portion of your time or your money to community involvement.

    Use Your Store Front
    If you have retail space, you have a unique advantage. Put a box by the cash register to collect quarters for your favorite cause. You can collect clothes or canned goods, or donate all or a portion of your window display space to a group for a certain period of time to promote their cause.

    Support Your Local Schools
    Elementary and high schools in your area need old computers, paper, and other supplies, as well as volunteers, guest speakers and a whole lot more. Contact the school volunteer association in your area and and find out how you can help.

    Door Prizes
    You may be asked to donate your products or services. Decide ahead of time how often you want to donate and what makes it worthwhile for you. Make sure all the requests you accept meet this criteria before you say yes.

    Special Discounts to Members
    Extend a discount to members of the community organizations you want to support. This will get you exposure as well as new customers.

    Intern and Apprenticeship Programs
    Many youth and job training organizations have intern and apprenticeship programs that are always looking for workplace experience for participants.
    Find out how you can help.

    Check With Your Accountant
    You can get a tax break for your donations. Have a chat with your accountant to identify the best way to make the most financially of your contributions.

    Take The Lead
    Organize an effort to plant trees, or hold a blood drive or refurbish a building. You can do this through one of the professional organizations of which you are a member.

    There are no shortage of possible projects you could undertake to uplift your community while uplifting yourself and your business at the same time. Start today to involve your business in your community and both will benefit.

    Caterina Rando, MA, MCC, coaches entrepreneurs to attract clients with ease by establishing themselves as experts in their fields. Caterina is the creator of the Expert Advantage- How to Attract clients with Ease Tele-course. Visit her website at www.attractclientswithease.com to listen to business building tele- classes and other free resources. She can be reached at 415 668-4535 or via email at cat@attractclientswithease.com.