Being involved in your community pays dividends

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Playing a role in our community can be good for business. In a competitive business environment, many potential customers tend to do business with those companies that demonstrate social responsibility.

Also, people look to be employed by companies who care.

Here are a few ideas we have learned from our community engagement that you can apply to your small, medium or large business. Remember, it’s all about creating goodwill (and good karma):

1) Take an active interest in community problems. From the tourism challenges presented by the Waldo Canyon/Black Forest fires to the downtown planned development options; from active interest in flood relief programs to attracting new businesses.

2) Sponsor youth activities. There are hundreds of activities to choose from. Baseball. Volleyball. Soccer. Music. Theatre. The list is just about as endless as you can support. Pick a sport. Attend a game. Take a team photo and hang it on an office wall for all to see. Sponsoring youth activities will make you feel good while at the same time send a signal that your business cares about the future generation.

3) Participate in local government. Business leaders can volunteer to share their expertise on city and county committees. Opportunities are posted on the City of Colorado Springs/Commissions & Committees website (www.springsgov.com/ccbindex.aspx).

4) Join business and service groups. Membership in local organizations can really help sell your products and services by showcasing your knowledge and relationship-building skills.

5) Purchase materials and supplies from local companies. “Shop Local” is a call to action we have all heard. What we need to do is to apply it to our daily routine. Demonstrating your willingness to spend your resources locally opens up a world of return business.

6. Make offices or other facilities available to community organizations. Opening up your extra office space so that nonprofits can host meetings accomplishes two goals: It demonstrates your commitment to the community and it potentially brings new customers through your doors.

7. Support local charity drives. By being a sponsor you demonstrate that you are “one of them.” From this, you gain exposure for your business and for your work in making the community a better place to live and work.

8) Take part in civic activities. A float and/or sponsorship in local street fairs and parades is a great way for your business to showcase community pride and another fun way to create awareness about your product or service.

9) Give talks before local commerce and civic associations. The top fear most people have is public speaking. Just take a deep breath. Get out there. This 20-30 minutes behind the podium will show others you care. Also, a public speaking opportunity is a great time to network. Make sure you bring business cards.

10) Your company could invite community groups to tour your plant or offices. Doing so will help your business become known.

11) Beautify your company’s surroundings. Yes, with a fountain, sculpture or garden so that it becomes a local landmark.

12) Recognize employees for volunteer work. Activities include volunteering at fundraising events and supporting service clubs. Review your community engagement plan each year with the goal of building off of past successes.

Involvement in the community is a great step to becoming a respected leader as well as building customer loyalty for the long term.

Again, use these tips to open up a world of opportunities for others to feel comfortable around you and do business with you. You want to leave a lasting impression with locals, as doing so will go a long way in establishing positive relationships and thus drive business.

Michael B. Perini, ABC is president of Perini & Associates, a public relations and marketing firm in Woodland Park. Reach him at mike@periniassociates.com.