Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Advisor Tip: Become a local business booster

Advisor Tip: Become a local business booster

Why: Promoting other professionals and small- to mid-sized businesses in your community positions you as a generous “others-first” leader, generating goodwill, affinity and share of mind

Nobody likes a chest-thumper. But everybody likes a business professional who lifts up other people and is a booster for their cause. Many small- and medium-sized businesses struggle with sales and local visibility, and would be grateful for your support. Think of ways to collaborate with these smaller, community-based businesses. The good karma will almost certainly come back to you.

For example, plan and host a “Let’s Get Organized” presentation at a locally owned diner or coffee shop. Over coffee and pie, you welcome a small group of guests—folks who have been invited by the other business friends involved—and set the stage for the 90-minute session. A local home organizing specialist or Feng Shui expert could speak of creating a stress-free environment. You could share ways to organize family finances and tame the paper monster. Or host similar event at a locally-owned bookstore, but simplify the refreshments and promote a local author’s book, which would be available for purchase and personal autograph as guests leave. You stand by, taking pictures with a digital camera, asking for guests to jot down their name and email address on a clip board so that you can send them a copy of their photo with the expert and/or author.

Variations to the local business collaborative are endless: A garden tour and gardening tips from an expert in the spring (you talk about making money grow in a healthy and plentiful way). A cooking class and wine tasting at a culinary center (you talk about using the right mix of ingredients to produce a perfect financial stew). A class on creating a LifeBio or Ethical Will at Jesuit or Zen spiritual retreat center (you talk about balance and clarity around personal finances). A walking tour around the local art galleries with planned mini-lectures and refreshments at various stops (you talk about community spirit and conduct a drawing for a local work of art).

How this helps: The financial services industry took a beating during the banking crisis and Wall Street scandals in 2008/09. Being visible and others-centered creates a caring face for your business and opens the door for conversations with new clients, cross-pollination with the other professionals involved, and possible media attention if your event and venue are timely and different enough from the standard business fare. Co-hosting events and positioning yourself as a local business booster gives you reasons to send out invitations and news releases, generate email and social media campaigns, and contact new strategic partners.

In the age of digital communication and social media, let’s not forget to get out and “see the people” – in real life. People are busy but once a community of interest is established, the rapport and connections should carry through into other educational or business social events. The possibilities are endless – philanthropic angles and volunteer activities are also a winning strategy, with the potential to produce an endless ripple in the right circles. We are known by the company we keep, so picking good circles and purpose-driven activities can not only help build business but enhance personal satisfaction and create an perpetually-renewing sense that we have plenty to share, and that people matter beyond just the business realm. The law of reciprocity is always at work.

Check out these other related articles on Financial-Planning.com:

Building a Financial Services Business that Sells Itself

Building Share of Mind as a Local, Vocal Name

Creating Perfect Events can Produce Perfect Clients