The good news is that in todayâ€™s political and social climate, itâ€™s become popular to support small and local businesses. As part of an ideology that emphasizes loyalty to oneâ€™s friends and family and social groupings, places like farmers markets have become more popular than ever. This has spread onto the internet as well, with entire websites dedicated to selling handmade or small business goods, as well as making it easier than ever for a startup company to find all the tools they need to design a website. However, that can still leave you with the problem of how to get a footing in your market. Sure, you may have the products and even the website, but you need the customers. Below is a short guide of some steps you can take to increase your business through community interactions.
Streamline your Networking Skills
Last but certainly not least, a very important factor to consider when enlarging or starting your business is forming connections with other professionals. Having friends and acquaintances both inside your field and outside of it can give you a big boost, so knowing how to make professional small talk or have what many people call the Elevator Pitch are excellent skills to have. Knowing how to sum up who you are and what you do is a good idea, as this guide from MindTools shows, but donâ€™t forget to show interest in the other personâ€™s work as well. Not only is this polite, but it may allow you to form a partnership with their work at a later date or to return the favor. Always keep around a few business cards in your wallet, with the skills and products your company offers on one side and your contact info and QR code for your website on the other. Know how to sum up your pitch in two or three sentences, and when sharing business cards hand them over with the skill side up. This will prompt the person to flip over the card, and therefore you will make a stronger impression by having a slightly longer interaction with said person.
Maximize your Social Media Presence
In a 2014 study hosted by the SSRN on social networking and how it affects sales, it was concluded that word of mouth, especially on Facebook or in other similar tightly knit local and online communities, could increase or decrease sales depending on the positive or negative reviews. Therefore, having a strong social media presence in your target audience is a great idea. This is more than just having a Twitter account, too. Being interactive with your customers and audience can promote a sense of friendliness and camaraderie, which can make them more likely to utilize your services. Hosting events, like a live stream on Facebook using BlueJeans, can add another level of interactivity as well as showcasing your business by either sharing a creative process or answering questions live. Contests and giveaways can be useful here, too, as nearly everybody likes getting something for free. Having a moderator with a thick skin and a strong understanding of the social media platform is very important, however, to maintaining as professional of a look as possible as emotions can occasionally get a little heated in online interactions.
Promote Local Events
If you have the ability or budget, becoming a sponsor for local events is an excellent way to get your name out there and associate it with good things. Many theatre programs, both as part of the community or a specific college, often rely on donors to afford many of their costumes or stages, and will thank their patrons in fliers and some at the start of each show. Additionally, many public schools will offer opportunities for outside businesses to help with fundraising or with a specific event. Not only will this help establish you as part of the social community, but itâ€™s an excellent alternative to mainstream advertising. On top of this, you can often help promote a cause you enjoy. In some cases, your sponsorship or promotion would be a donation of services or materials, giving the people involved a chance to experience and review your business. If youâ€™d like to get involved, reach out to local schools and colleges as well as your local extension office for connections to such programs as FFA and 4-H, or simply the community arts venue of your choice.
Much of early success in the professional world is based on who you know, and about being accepted or included as part of a specific social group. Getting involved with your target audience or local community is a great way to avoid the sometimes intrusive and impersonal typical ad programs, and can also help you expand your network. Whether itâ€™s a Facebook live stream or a donation to a local library, hopefully some of the advice above can help you increase your business in a way that you will enjoy.
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