How Community Engagement Can Help Your Small Business
Visibility, good networking and a positive reputation are all vital to the success of a small business. Fortunately, all three of these elements can be fostered through active community engagement.
What is Community Engagement?
One of the simplest and most accurate definitions of community engagement may be taken from the lexicon of the Financial Times: Community engagement is the process of working collaboratively with community groups to address issues that impact the well-being of those groups.
Small business is often regional to the communities it serves making it very effective at identifying and filling local needs. With a vital history of community support and involvement, small business is often recognized as being “the backbone of the country,” for good reason. When business leaders make community engagement a priority, the business and the community can thrive together.
Why is Community Engagement Important for a Small Business?
“Engaging in your community is great way to build business,” says Rich Lalley, a dedicated Rotarian and Director, Organization & Individual Development & Rotary at Operation Warm.
“It provides an avenue to expanding your network and getting your company known in a positive light.”
“When you give back, it reminds you that small businesses are what make cities and American culture so vibrant,” small business owner Ciara Stockeland says in a USA Today article focused on how small businesses are finding giving back to be a winning formula.
Visibility, Networking and Reputation
Visibility: “Whether a business lends time in the form of volunteering employees or money in the form of sponsorship, it boosts its visibility and demonstrates itself to be a stable entity,” says the website Duct Tape Marketing. “Community involvement for a business can be a situation in which everyone wins.”
Networking: Good networking is critical to the success of a small business, and community engagement gives you a chance to interact with others, both inside and outside of the normal business channels. By networking with other like members in the community, you can be sure to build up the connections that any small business needs to grow and to survive.
Positive Reputation: Customers and clients can make a positive association with companies that practice social good. In fact, they are more likely to support a business that gives back.
An Established Service Club is an Easy Entry Point
One of the best ways to have your small business get involved in your community is by joining a service club, such as Rotary International. Members of these clubs meet to provide service to others, usually on a local community level.
“Rotary began over 100 years ago as a business networking opportunity, and Rotary’s first official motto was “He Profits Most Who Serves Best,” Rich says. “This core value of ‘Service Above Self’ and conducting one’s business and personal life within the highest ethical standards has served many Rotarian small business owners very well over the past 100+ years.”
Interested in starting an Operation Warm community service project with your club?