I believe it is important for networking groups to play an active role in the community they serve. As networkers work to help each other they should combine their efforts by making a difference in the community. It is important so that you can become a presence in your area. I can this social entrepreneurship.
Members of a community have a responsibility for being involved in that community. By doing this you become more connected. This connection gives you a chance to make an impact. Be transparent and proactively honest in your community. When you are involved in your community, your are one of them, an insider. Community involvement can help your business grow because it promotes trust, builds solid relationships and puts a personal face on your business that can’t be duplicated any other way. When you are a good neighbor, a known and respected member of the community, your business will prosper.
Volunteerism is a great way for networkers to have fun and feel closer. Make sure your motives are pure.
Apart from being a good samaritan and lending a helping hand, being a positive member of your community can result in increased business, better public relations and free publicity for your networking group.
Local schools always need a helping hand. Perhaps while you are helping the school you can mentor or coach the students about the importance of networking. That’s something we are not teaching our kids in school. It teaches them about their responsibilities as citizens of the world and of our nation. It is our responsibility to pass down this legacy to our children.
Sponsor sports teams. Volunteer to help in local and state elections. Become involved in Special Olympics.
Many companies give back to the community as well. Community involvement includes mentoring, volunteering, being active on boards of organizations, and sharing your time and talents to improve your community. When you really truly look at all of your options, you will find that they are endless.
Join local business organizations and network with others. This is especially useful if you provide services to other businesses. Networking is a proven way to gain new clients.
Here is one of the perks. Creating a community presence for your networking group will almost always create opportunity to promote your group and your own business. It helps you expand your social circle not only for yourself, but for your networking group. It helps build new friendships and relationships.
Surround yourself with people who are like-minded; who are interested in helping to brand your networking group as a community-minded group.
Find a need and fill it. Here is a great example.
I started one of Tulsa’s most successful networking groups called The Tulsa Business Connection in 1985. Not long after the group was organized, a prospective member was invited to visit our group for possible membership. The day after the meeting, I received a call that her daughter and her daughter’s friend had run away from home. She had called the Police to report it but was told that they could do nothing until she had been missing for 24 hours. The mother was beside herself. She didn’t know what to do.
I quickly call our members – about 60 – and rounded up a $500 reward for the safe return of both girls. Next, I began calling the Tulsa radio and TV stations to see if they would run a story. They did. KRMG Radio was especially helpful. I did a radio interview where I noted how frustrated the mother was and said it was a shame that a city as large as Tulsa had no place for her to turn. They took parts of the interview and ran SoundBytes on the news.
By the time I returned to my office, I received a call from the radio station telling me that the Director of Tulsa Youth Services was trying to reach me. When I called her I was told that counselors at Youth Services were available. I told her that I was curious why they didn’t have a run-away hot-line for parents to call. My mind was spinning with all kinds of ideas to help and came up with having The Tulsa Business Connection band together to offer this service to the Tulsa area.
The newspaper was a different story. I was told that run-aways were not news and the answer was an emphatic, “No!” I’ve never been one to accept the first “No.” I told them that instead of focusing on the run-aways that maybe they should focus on the fact that there was virtually no resource to help parents in their time of need and that The Tulsa Business Connection was considering funding a run-away hot-line in the Tulsa area and we were looking for donations of money and vendors who would help us promote the idea.
The next day, The Tulsa World ran a “front-page” story – a full half-page – that talked about the mother’s frustration, the hot-line idea, a short blurb about the girls and with photos of both girls. Success!
Within 12 hours both girls were found and a $500 reward was paid to the women who just happened to see both girls in her apartment complex. She was invited to attend one of our meetings where I presented her with the reward check. She was unemployed at the time and was grateful for the $500.
The fact that both girls were found gave me the success I needed to start the buzz about a run-away hot-line and I called the newspapers, radio and TV to tell them the news.
Why am I telling you this story? The Tulsa Business Connection became known in the Tulsa area overnight. Our membership grew. The hot-line (1+RunAway) was up and running and we continued to have a community presence and continued to raise money for over a year and a half to fund the phone line.
The printer member of our group volunteered to print more than 15,000 fliers. Another of our members who owned an office supply store donated the paper. My name, The Tulsa Business Connection and all the other members of our group who actively participated in this project were given credit in the flyers. Our networking members distributed the flyers in their businesses and in other businesses all over town.
Not only did The Tulsa Business Connection get lots of publicity and praise from the community, the Board of Directors of Tulsa Youth Services voted to eventually take over the funding of the hot-line and continued to print thousands of brochures. The Tulsa Business Connection continued to receive credit for the hot-line idea. We tracked more than $2,000,000 in business leads between our 60 members in only the second year of our existence.
It’s call giving back. Use your imagination. Get creative. Brainstorm with other networking members. Find a need and fill it. Be social entrepreneurs. As active networkers you are encouraged to become more committed to the community that supports your businesses. Everyone benefits!
Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Visit ” Networking HQ!”
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