Strong ties with the community can be vital to business growth. How do business owners build and sustain relationships with their local communities? We asked members of the Entrepreneurs' Organization to share their experiences with getting--and staying--involved.
Volunteer your time with like-minded organizations.
"Once a quarter, our corporate team volunteers at a local nonprofit with core values similar to ours, such as the Capital Food Bank of Austin or Thinkery. Living up to our core values and being involved in our local community at the same time demonstrates to the community how seriously we take our mission of making the world a better place."
-- Yuen Yung, CEO, How Do You Roll?; EO Austin
Introduce your product or service for a low fee, or for free.
"We provide families with full-service child care and customized tutoring solutions. Recently, at a popular event called the Grand Old Day Parade in St. Paul, we offered free date nights! We accomplished this by giving away three free hours of child care as well as free enrollment for participating families. Our volunteer nannies also distributed promotional cards along with branded Frisbees for the kids. The cards couldn't have flown out of their hands faster."
-- Joe Keeley, president and CEO, College Nannies & Tutors; EO Minnesota
Be a mentor.
"I worked long and hard to get where I am, so I like to use my time to guide, mentor, and assist others to follow their passion and purpose. I'm active in the Dallas startup community as a mentor. There, I share my journey of being an entrepreneur and draw from my experience, failures, network, and passion of building businesses to help people starting out."
-- Rishi Khanna, CEO, ISHIR; EO Dallas
Host inclusive networking events.
"We have been hosting networking events over the past two years. Our efforts have aided the community's economic activity, although most attendees are not qualified leads for us. In turn, companies such as Nespresso and American Express, along with banks and business schools, have expressed interest in our activities and want to support us by sponsoring our events and sending representatives to help us spread the word."
-- Joe Apfelbaum, CEO, Ajax Union; EO New York
Leverage social media.
"Our annual 'Zoup! to the Rescue' program began in 2012 as a way for our franchisees to respond to posts and tweets from fans. The goal was to create a channel for storeowners and team members to reach out to those who are sick or could use a pick-me-up with a care package, i.e., a meal. After each person is 'rescued,' a photo is posted on the company Facebook page, along with the unique story of why the person was chosen. This creates meaningful, intimate connections for everyone."
-- Eric Ersher, founder and CEO, Zoup! Fresh Soup Co.; EO Detroit