People love to shop local. It’s what makes a community unique. Just look at your local farmer’s market or indy coffee shop. These hyper local establishments don’t need a million followers to be successful, they just need small group of core fans. The community in Rochester, Michigan, is a perfect example.
Do you have a hand in a local business—maybe a boutique or service business? Or, are you simply looking to expand your local professional network? Then this post is especially for you. Even if the majority of your business comes through clicks, don’t underestimate the power of local connections. Followers just don’t appear. Just because you built it doesn’t mean the community will come (or know you’re there).
The trick to inspiring a loyal and local following requires stepping away from your laptop to get out and meet new people in your community. Yes, face to face. Good old fashioned networking doesn’t have to be scary or awkward. With a subtle shift of your thinking, you’ll be off building deep rooted local connections. A better connected community is a win all around. The better your community, colleagues, and fellow business owners understand what and why you do what you do, the better equipped they are to connect you with your ideal clients or your dream job.
First, take some time to review your online presence. As you make new connections, be sure your website and social presence reflects the message you’ll be delivering in person. With your message ready, it’s time to get out there. But how?
Do a little research and find 3 groups that meet in your town. It could be a Chamber of Commerce, a BNI group, a MeetUp, a book club—really any small group that meets in some organized fashion will do.
Visit each group. Do you feel a connection within the group? Don’t think about these people as potential clients. Forget the business element. Don’t ask: can I sell to these people? Ask yourself: Do I want to meet these people for coffee? Do they have something to teach me? Can we support each other? You’re not looking for direct leads or job offers, you’re looking for a group that can be educated on what exactly you do and why you do it. You’re aiming for authentic connection and true mutual support.
After your visits, pick your favorite group and attend another event. That’s it!. It may sound simple, but to some, this is a big step!