As an entrepreneur, getting involved in your community is a great way to give back, build successful working relationships and expand your company’s reach. With a large population, many businesses and tons of resources, working in a large city can provide your business with countless opportunities to get involved. But how do you get started?
To help, we asked Forbes Business Council members how business owners in bigger cities can get involved in a genuine way. Here are some approaches you can use.
1. Start With Industry Trade Organizations And Networking Groups
Be authentic and true to yourself. Focus involvement on the industries and causes you care about and you’ll deliver the most value to yourself and others. Your industry’s trade organizations and business networking groups are great places to start. – Benjamin Elzweig, Active Staffing Services
2. Make CSR Part Of Your Culture
Entrepreneurs can get involved in several ways, including providing sponsorships and attending local events, as well as serving on boards of directors for nonprofit organizations. Corporate social responsibility is an important element in today’s business environment and should part of the firm’s culture. Businesses can make the world a better place by going beyond their core focus. – David Crean, Objective Capital Partners, LLC
3. Lead From The Heart
The choice in organizations you engage with in your community must be made authentically. Seek groups that are aligned with your personal interests so your engagement will be genuine and long-term. They do not necessarily need to correlate with your industry but you must be passionate about it. After all, your involvement is an endorsement of their efforts. – Dianna Chane, Harston Cohn
4. Seek Opportunities That Are Aligned With Your Passions
Entrepreneurs should find a cause that they are passionate about, or are near and dear to their hearts. Then they can serve their community through this need wholeheartedly. It works because it shows your authenticity in giving back. The relationship-building becomes relational instead of transactional. You will attract more people aligned with your objectives. – Brian Chew, OC Wills and Trust Attorneys
5. Volunteer At Multiple Charities
I recommend volunteering at a handful of charities in your big city community to meet new people, give back and become more invested. You will learn new things, be inspired and role model for others. We know how precious time is. Devoting time like this is a gift to both yourself and your community. My volunteer work has enriched my business and my life as an entrepreneur. – Diana Bianchini, Di Moda Public Relations, Inc.
6. Start On The Hyperlocal Neighborhood Level
Major cities have many communities that individually have many needs. Often to start, it’s best to focus on the area that makes the most sense for you rather than taking too big of a bite. Choose your neighborhood first and focus on it before you attempt to take on the entire city. – John Monarch, ShipChain
7. Genuinely Care About Your Community
Treat your customers like your friends and family. Genuinely care about them and what’s going on in their life. Be their punching bag to vent their stresses, as well as their best friend to share happy moments and celebrations. Most importantly, always be of service to help them, with no expectations in return. – Nader Luthera, FURM GROUP LIMITED
8. Partner With Local Community Colleges
Working with local community colleges is a great way to build your recruiting pipeline for future hires. Unlike major four-year universities, community colleges can often adapt their programs to the changing needs of the job market. This gives local entrepreneurs the opportunity to play a major role in the training of future employees so that they are better prepared to fill your open positions. – Jeanne Hardy, Creative Business Inc.
9. Invite Students To Have ‘Real-World’ Experiences With Your Business
Connect with your local high schools and colleges by offering to speak, bring students on-site to your business, sponsor activities and be a mentor. Students want “real-world” experiences and you are investing in building their knowledge base, confidence, connections and futures. In turn, you meet a broad range of important contacts and possibly meet your next best employee. – Pamela Kan, Bishop-Wisecarver
10. Look At A List Of Local Events
There are many local events and community gatherings you can attend. See what’s happening in your area and figure out how you can contribute to a cause that matters to you. Whether that’s donating your time, money or even leading a fundraising campaign, choosing something you are passionate about will make it easy to become genuinely involved. – Beth Worthy, GMR Transcription Services, Inc
11. Choose Something Relevant To Your Industry
I recommend attending events or performing tasks that are directly related to the entrepreneur’s respective industry. Our business, for example, often uses its medical expertise and resources to perform free blood pressure checkups, give out free condoms and distribute free hearing protection at community events. By using this approach, entrepreneurs will form more genuine connections. – Alex Pollak, ParaDocs Worldwide Inc.
12. Give Back In A Way That’s True to You
Entrepreneurs in major cities, or anywhere, really, should get involved with their communities in a way that’s true to themselves. If you’re a dog lover then volunteer at the local shelter. Into old cars? Volunteer to help take elderly folks from the retirement home to a classic car museum. Everyone wins when you unselfishly follow your passions. – Don Daszkowski, International Franchise Professionals Group – IFPG
13. Join Community Organizations That Will Help Promote Your Business
Become a member of visible organizations to network with prominent business leaders, e.g., Chamber of Commerce, Visitors and Tourism Bureau, YMCA, or museums. You also can attend city council meetings which give you an opportunity to meet city leaders and show your desire to understand local issues. Local charity events also give you access to people who might be interested in you and your work. – Susan Neisloss, bigbiteprod.com
14. Find The Intersection Between Your Passion, Strengths And Skills
It’s important to find something that you are passionate about, aligns with your personal values and beliefs and then get involved. Try and find the intersection between your passion and key strengths and skill set to be able to have the most impact, and create the most reciprocity, when getting more involved with your local community. – Keir Weimer, Keir Weimer Multimedia, LLC