33 Ways to Connect With Your Community

Building relationships in your community means turning people into neighbors, and neighbors into loyal customers. Happy, loyal customers spread the word about your business. They are your cheerleaders, your free advertisers and your biggest fans + allies. Make sure you are learning as much from them as they are gaining from the value you offer when you serve them. 

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Local communities have tight-knit groups no matter how big or small the population is in an area. You can call on the people who resonate with your brand and your business mission by working within the community to form a collective. 

This article is a source for organizing your community in order to mobilize them into action when the time comes. There are countless ways your community can come together for a common reason such as disaster relief efforts, fundraising events for needy citizens or non-profit organizations, political activist rallies, town hall meetings, and even school support initiatives. Communities need to stay strong in times of need, but they can also develop fond memories for families, friends and even people who feel they are living without a close support system. 

As people get older, it can often be difficult to form new relationships. You get stuck in a rut, spending time in familiar places with the same old faces. Change is inevitable and it is the secret to staying young and active! These activities are a great way to encourage your community to seek a change of scenery when they are debating how to spend their free time. Everyone is looking for connection. Unfortunately, with the advancements made with technology we are more connected to people, but an astounding ##% of people say they feel lonelier than ever. 

Help your neighborhood form bonds where a lasting impact will connect generations to come with common interests, goals and political views. Let's start with your next door neighbor! 

1. Knock on your friendly neighbor's door and offer them a special free sample of your products or services. Sometimes feedback from unlikely perspectives can help us discover new uses for old things. Ask them to help you troubleshoot a new product or even see if they'd like to show you how they'd use it. Give them permission to try and break it or ask who they might consider giving it to as a gift. You never know! Your next big idea could come from the guy or girl next door.

2. If you own a restaurant or sell consumable products, host a "bake sale" fundraiser for a local community group or charity.

3. If you make arts or crafts, offer to decorate a local library, cafe, senior center, business lobby or office, or non-profit organization. Try to connect with a location aligned with your target market so the people who visit could start building goodwill. When they recognize your name, they will start building trust and will be called to purchase an item on display or visit to pick out something at your shop or store.

4. Host a dinner party for local business owners.

5. Work with the other businesses on your street and within walking distance to organize a monthly event people can look forward to like a tasting tour, art walk, or shop scavenger hunt!

6. Organize a summer block party with fun games, activities, drinks, snacks and giveaways.

7. Work with the Chamber of Commerce to put together an event about your favorite element of running a small business and present it to high school seniors, local college students and other young people in the area who may be interested in starting a business or interning.

8. Teach a workshop about your specialty.

9. Create a campaign to help collect non-perishable food items for a mission or shelter. Ask them what items they need and turn it into a competition each month between different civic groups or other community organizations.

10. Invite local boy and girl scouts to demonstrate specific tasks related to your business in order to earn a badge or educate other children in the area who's parents also enjoy your establishment.

11. Buy an ad in the local middle or high school yearbook or sports programs.

12. Sponsor a sports team by purchasing their uniforms, emblazoned with your business logo or pay for a ball field outfield sign to advertise if it's appropriate.

13. Host a silent auction with sale items to raise money for a local charity.

14. Animal shelters can always use extra cleaning products, towels, blankets and of course money for shots, spaying, neutering, medications and other procedures necessary to help abandoned animals find new forever homes.

15. Contact local non-profits who share a common goal and see if you can order surplus materials to donate on a regular basis. This also doubles as a tax deduction for a number of businesses. Dentists can always benefit from donating toothbrushes with their contact information on them to shelters, schools, senior centers and even hotels, bed & breakfasts and organizations who do disaster relief like the American Red Cross.

16. Donate seeds, plants or trees to local gardening groups who help beautify neighborhoods, parks and other common areas around your community.

17. Offer to pay a landscaping business to mow grass or do minor curb appeal projects for senior citizens our people with disabilities who need help maintaining their yards.

18. Donate books to local schools, libraries, senior centers and shelters.

19. Ask interest groups who could use your products or services how you could team up to help each other in a bigger way. 

20. Put together a community game tournament like a relay race, family friendly games or even a sporting event like softball, volleyball or golf to raise money or simply encourage people to get out and move and be more active. A basketball free throw competition is another easy activity.

21. Get a group of people together with trash bags, rubber gloves and other supplies to clean up litter around town, along a river or at the local park. 

22. Cater a dinner party for a local group, teachers or business professionals.

23. Design an art project and show school children how to create something fun.

24. Buy a full truckload of ice cream from the local ice cream truck and ask them to go to a local park or neighborhood to give away a free treat on a hot day.

25. Barter products and services with local businesses who can benefit from an exchange program.

26. Use your products to put together care packages for troops, hotel or bed & breakfast guests, exchange students, service professionals, your favorite charity organization staff, college students or people who are new to the area. 

27. Have a yard sale, garage sale or rummage sale to raise money for your favorite charity. Try to get other businesses involved too.

28. Collect signatures for petitions about issues you feel passionately about and that impact your community, your business and the environment.

29. Start a recycling initiative if there isn't one already, or find other ways to raise awareness about reducing, recycling and reusing items to keep them out of landfills.

30. Volunteer your time at a charity you care about by asking what they need specifically. Usually they need more hands to help and less stuff.

31. Smile. Hold doors open for people. Share an umbrella. Make business cards with nice messages on the back like, "I caught you doing something nice for someone else. Enjoy a free ___ on me!" Generally use good manners and pay attention to the people around you instead of your phone.

32. Drive carefully. Pedestrians have the right of way. Use your turn signals and try to take deep breaths. Everyone is equally important, and probably late. Slow down and save lives by being conscious, courteous and considerate of others on the road and off.

33. Pay for someone's meal, coffee, or extra snack in a vending machine without needing to be recognized. Paying it forward isn't about earning a gold star. A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. Share your light and your whole community will shine brighter. Little by little, your whole community will be illuminated.

While a lot of these suggested activities and events require money, the most important resource any of us have is our time. Use it wisely to make positive changes that benefit the most people, but especially try to help those who are silenced or stifled. Communities are only as strong as the weakest links in their chain. This is not a petition for pity or sympathy, but there is no room for apathy in a world bombarded by hate, violence, oppression, disease, famine and destruction. 

Do what you can to make your footprint small, your impact large and your heart full of joy, kindness, and love. Leave every place you visit better than the way you found it. 

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