Better Your Community, Better Your Brand
May 18, 2018
You chose to plant your business in your community for a reason. Hopefully, beyond some possible financial gains, you are there because you love the people, events, sights, and sounds. You enjoy the local coffee shop that knows your order every single time. You like seeing the same people on your lunch time walk. The social climate ignites your fire.
Now, wouldn’t it make sense that, in order for your business to thrive, it’s important to invest in that very community that services your employees and company every single day? When you begin to take a deeper interest in the community around you, dedicate some of your internal resources, and put in the hours to improving all that’s around you, the business and brand-building potential improves dramatically.
You’re probably saying, “We get it Christina. What hard-nosed, selfish person wouldn’t want to give back the community?” Obviously, the intrinsic benefits of serving your community are invaluable, but when it comes to dedicating time and resources, the bigger question becomes, “How can community service also help build that brand recognition? How can I justify time and/or money spent outside the office?” Here are some ways investing in your community can help your brand’s profile:
Networking Opportunities — As a consistent “networking event” attendee, I totally understand the value of these events. However, sometimes, they feel too “salesy,” disingenuous, and just plain awkward. The intention is build business, so that’s the overriding mentality. On the other hand, community service opportunities provide your team with the perfect opportunity to connect with other, like-minded individuals in an environment completely unrelated to “deal-making.” When you are put in a situation to serve with other business leaders, it provides the platform for conversation without the added pressure of making a sale. Service puts you in an environment where you can begin to develop and cultivate personal relationships with potential partners, customers, etc. which can ultimately serve your business well in the long run.
Talent Pool Cultivation and Employee Attraction — Where do we even begin? Let’s start with the obvious. When companies move or decide to stake a claim in a certain area, the talent pool in that local area is kind of a big deal. Wouldn’t it make sense to put some time into feeding the pipeline for your future employees? Find organizations that relate to your business and give you a built-in talent pool to pull from in the future. For instance, send a team of coders from your company into the local Boys & Girls Club to teach programming classes. This will serve a dual purpose of increasing community involvement and working to develop skills in locals—helping you stay in constant contact with future recruits
ICYMI: Upcoming generations of employees feel motivated by companies who incorporate social responsibility into their company mission and brand initiatives—everybody wants a job that is fulfilling. So if current and future employee happiness and satisfaction mean anything to your organization, this may be something you want to look into. Consider how important the local community is to prospective employees? If you’re trying to lure people to your location, doesn’t it make sense to put some effort into making it attractive to employees?
Hone Different Skills — Being involved in volunteer opportunities helps your team develop skills not directly related to their jobs. Software developers can work on cultivating leadership and event planning skills. Marketing directors can hone their skills in team building and resource management. These gained and defined skills will then translate into how your team functions and grows, leading to increased knowledge and possible advancement within your company. Volunteer efforts force you to think outside of the box. As you are developing your skillset, your brain will begin to rewire and think in new, creative ways.
Teambuilding and Collaboration — Coming together as an organization to volunteer in the community lets employees mingle and collaborate outside of the workplace, allowing them to develop a deeper relationship with one another. Serving together on a project outside work really helps build those communications skills, especially between departments that tend to keep their distance. I don’t think anyone would disagree with having a more collaborative and cohesive environment
Sense of Community and Neighborhood Enrichment — Plant trees. Clean the streets. Mentor locals. As you give back, you’ll start to see the fruits of your labor create an optimal environment. Enriching your community should be a prime goal of your company—after all, you want the community to thrive for your business to grow! If the parks are clean, neighborhoods are safe, and schools are flourishing, people will be attracted to your community. New businesses will set up shop, trendy restaurants will sprout up, and new clients will begin knocking on your door. Objections?
Public Relations Within Your Community — Want to be an A-lister in your community? The company everyone refers to when they’re talking to others? Service projects and volunteer efforts will get your company in front of the community, branding it to the collective consciousness of the public, and increasing overall awareness of who you are and what you do. This will give your company a position of status and importance within the community. Make so great of an impact that if times DID get tough, the community would come together to save your business because of all the hard work you put into making it a better place.
Gone are the days when “giving back” was a “nice-to have.” It is a must when developing your business model. It’s an expectation from employees and the community as a whole. Don’t miss out on bettering your community, while bettering your brand! Oh, and BTW, it’s just the right thing to do.