How to Build Influence in the Small Business Community
July 2, 2015
(An Article I submitted recently hoping to get picked up...)
Small community businesses not only need a place to share to grow their own business, but to connect and share with others to help them grow their businesses. It’s not about just each company as a single, competitive entity anymore. It is about community collaboration. It’s about community building through your brand. It’s about being social and engaged.
When you focus on the value you are adding to the community as a whole instead of the value you are receiving from consumers buying, your influence grows. Your name spreads. Your business expands. And those you share and collaborate with see their efforts pay off. In other words, the entire small business community benefits and so does your brand. The proof is right before your eyes.
Until now, collaborating was almost unheard of and helping each other was thought to be counterintuitive. That theory is proving to be wrong on more than one level. The concept of collaboration, while not new, is now being approached in a very exciting and groundbreaking way with the use of technology by CHiC Capital, that puts everything right up front and accessible, right where you need it.
Small Businesses are becoming a force to be recognized within your community – but not just as a lone business – but as a part of a caring, sharing community that knows they work best as collaborators and not competitors. Do not forget about customer service. Outstanding customer service is the backbone of a successful community building strategy. So be engaging. Be personal. Be someone people want to collaborate with, share with, do business with, and the community then becomes a staging area of unlimited potential.
If you want to be a small business with a community-based feeling and appeal, know the local area and their customs, at home and abroad, and be accessible. Communication is a two-way street. That is what sharing and collaboration means. It is time to get back to the personal, human touch that people are seeking and have been missing since the advent of mobile devices that speak for us. Digital communication is good, but one-to-one; in person business relations are even better as we come together through event and ideas building.
You cannot launch a product or collaborate in a global community or across the nation by viewing each opportunity as if it were the same as marketing just in the United States. Think reinventing your local brand for each area you want to expand into and become a part of that community. It’s the small details that count big.
Listen to what the local community wants and needs. Collaborate with others to get your community project done. Share the details. Borrow others expertise and involve your community in a way they have never been engaged in before. Share ideas. Use local social media and platforms to be a part of that community. In return, that community can follow that same process in their location. Each community then develops its own unique, yet composite identity of the “whole.” Brands that share with businesses in their own community and in others get a reputation for being the “go to” entrepreneurs.
It’s best to remember that although you may have a useful product, you and your business are much more than the product itself. A powerful brand is about the company and people who are its heart and soul. It’s about the people, who are part of a community.
Being fully present and part of a community is about listening, really listening, and holding all connections to you as valuable. People have ideas and thoughts to contribute, whether they are other business owners, potential clients or existing customers. Act on what they suggest.
Being a part of the local community is also about your customers feeling like they matter, are a part of your business strategy and not just a number. Community building through your brand is about authentically engaging with people and building relationships. Gone are the days of flashy ads to build your brand, we need organic alternatives when growing our small businesses.
The term sharing & collaborating does mean being generous, BUT with limitations. Giving too much away is not a sustainable business practice and is not necessary. The point is to acknowledge strategic partnerships and not break the bank. In other words, it is the gesture that cements community loyalty. Rewarding loyalty creates local brand ambassadors – a valuable verbally viral community that benefits everyone.
Owning and running a local small business is not just about only focusing on marketing and delivering a product. It is about focusing on the people who are going to use a product or service. Of course, this collaborative shift of small businesses working with other small businesses and sharing is not going to happen overnight.
It takes time. It takes trust. It takes knowing your own community and others. It means taking the time to build working relationships for profitability, personal and purposeful collaborations. The sky is the limit.
Think about branding your small business in a new, different way – community involvement. What impact is your business making on your community? When you have the answer to that question, you have the keys to success and will be focusing on added value potential for consumers instead of what your business gets from
them. It’s all about engagement with the community and other small businesses online and offline.