The main benefit of community connections is the opportunity to market your company to the members of service groups and lodges, who tend to be engaged, informed, and often own businesses themselves.
However, it also allows you to present your business as a responsible community player who helps the community through acts of good will. One form of good will, charity, can be provided with free rides for various causes the organizations support, or donating time, gift certificates or manpower to their events.
Getting In The Door
Service organizations meet weekly for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They are always looking for people to come in and speak to their groups. While we certainly aren’t looking for a free meal, the guest speaker is treated to one. Search the Internet by name, such as “Rotary International.” The local chapter president will be listed with contact information. Call the president and ask to speak to the program coordinator. It is important that you present yourself as a company that wants to work with service organizations instead of simply stating you want to come in and give a pitch.
Plan to tell the audience all about your company. This should include a brief overview of when you started your business, what services you offer and your goal for standing in front of the group today. You might say something like, “At ABC Limousine, we are always looking for community partners to work with in causes that benefit our community in a positive way.”
Such a statement is broad, but warms up audience hearts. Avoid the overused cliché of “giving back to the community.” You might tell the group you would like to donate a gift certificate for fundraisers and commit to help causes the group cares about. People love to know about our business. They always want to know which celebrities we have driven and the craziest thing that ever happened in the back of a limo. As long as you don’t divulge confidential information, there is no reason to avoid sharing fun stories. Be sure to follow your informational speech with a question and answer session.
What’s In It For YOU
The people who belong to these groups tend to be high-level business executives and owners. They are probably there for the same reason you are: It’s all about networking. Members of service groups always look for someone within their group to conduct business with when possible. If no one in the group performs a particular service, they will ask for referrals within the group before venturing outside. These groups can range from 25 to 100 people, and they will remember your presentation. If they need service, they will come to you. They also may refer you to others they contact. Getting your company name out there is vital.
Make sure you ask the program coordinator about projected attendance and bring plenty of business cards and brochures to hand out. It is highly likely that someone in the group will ask you for a quote about something before you leave the building. Be prepared to provide a quote or at least write down the information needed to prepare a quote back at the office. You also might want to consider bringing a bottle of wine to raffle off or even a gift certificate. Collect business cards from each person there and hold your own drawing. Use the business cards collected from the drawing to send a personal follow-up once you get back to the office.