• Mon. May 20th, 2024

How supporting local community events can yield business opportunities

People park cleanup

People are signing up to join the effort to clean up a local park. (iStock)

If you are trying to develop new leads for your business, one way to expand your networking efforts could be to get involved in local community events. This outreach could include participating in community events, being a sponsor or joining a planning committee.

“Community events are a valuable opportunity for small business owners to engage with their community, find new customers or clients, elevate their employer brand position with employees and candidates, and support their mission and values,” says Amy Marcum, manager of HR services at Insperity. “The benefit of community events is the ability to strengthen community ties and oftentimes, to connect with a new demographic.”

How can a business become a community partner in local community events? 

The scope and involvement of businesses can vary depending on the particular event. Some alliances could include a monetary component, while other support could be sharing your time and talents. Here’s how your business can be a part of local community events.

Your businesses can sponsor events

Many community events, particularly those with a charitable purpose, seek out sponsorships from local businesses, says Marcum.

“Sponsorship typically includes branding or recognition of a business by the event, depending on the price,” Marcum tells FOX Business. “The best choice of events to sponsor are industry events or events that have a direct relationship to the nature of a business and events supporting a cause that ties into its mission and values.”

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Your businesses can provide speakers for local panels

Marcum says community events like conferences or career fairs may feature a panel of guest speakers.

“Not only is providing a speaker a good way to give back, but the speaker has the chance to positively represent their employer to panel attendees,” she says. In addition, panel speakers, their employers and their credentials are usually shared in the event’s printed materials, media communications, website and social media, which can raise a business’ brand awareness, Marcum says. 

Your business can donate to a community event

Donations are a vital way for businesses to give back to the community.

“It is critical that the event or organization receiving the donation resonates with a business’s core mission and values,” explains Marcum. “While many charitable events are deserving of donations, businesses may wish to identify a couple of organizations they want to support on an ongoing basis and develop that relationship.”

On the other hand, she says, businesses might prefer to donate to a different event every year as an annual award to a deserving organization.

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People park cleanup

People are signing up to join the effort to clean up a local park. (iStock / iStock)

Your businesses can offer in-kind services

Besides monetary donations, businesses can also donate their services to community events for free or at a lower rate, Marcum says. This has the advantage of gaining exposure to event organizers and attendees and may create opportunities for paid work in the future, she says.

“Donating in-kind services also allows the employees providing those services to become directly involved in the event, which supports employee engagement and corporate culture,” Marcum tells FOX Business. 

Your business can support employee volunteerism

Whether planning a company-wide volunteer day during a community event or simply encouraging employees to volunteer outside of work hours, businesses can support employees in becoming involved in the community, says Marcum.

“This has the additional benefit of strengthening internal relationships and corporate culture while boosting the organization’s community presence,” she adds. 

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How can businesses prioritize opportunities?

According to Marcum, businesses should prioritize supporting community events in alignment with their mission and values.

“After assessing their missions and values, businesses should research online, in their local papers and on social media to find relevant events happening in their communities. The local chamber of commerce is also a good resource for community events,” Marcum tells FOX Business. 

Also, given budget limitations, it is commonplace for businesses to prioritize one or a few events to support.

“Based on their research, they can make a list of events that resonate and rank them based on relevant criteria, such as the number of attendees, press coverage and documented impact on the community,” says Marcum. “An event with few attendees or a lower profile may not yield as much of an impact on the community. On the other hand, some businesses may find value in taking the lead to grow a lower profile event.”

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How does this community support help yield business opportunities?

Kathleen Dubois, the industry leader of the nonprofit and government practice of Wipfli, a business advisory and accounting firm, says doing good things in the community can also be an excellent business development and brand-building strategy for a small business.

“Truly, when a small business owner approaches community event participation for the right reason in the right way—incredible business opportunities can arise,” Dubois says. “I always advise – focus on your goals and intentions, give with a big heart, nurture contacts, follow up, be consistently out there in your community – and good things will come from doing so.”

Also, she shares that an effective way for a small business owner to participate in community events is to partner with complementary businesses and host joint events or initiatives that support a local nonprofit, school or civic organization.

“By working together, small business owners can pool resources, expand their reach, and offer a comprehensive experience for community event attendees,” Dubois says.

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