I live in a town of approximately 28,000 people.
Clinton, IA, nestled right along the eastern edge of the state along the Mississippi River, is a community built on manufacturing, railroad and at one time, it was the center of a booming lumber industry. In this town, your last name and lineage still hold the interest of most of its residents. When I started Bent Business Marketing here in the summer of 2012, I was asked repeatedly who my father and mother were. Since my last name is uncommon in the area, my presence confused some of newly found acquaintances.
Being in the military for over a decade, I was used to meeting people from all over the country. It was actually rare to bump into someone who was from your home state. But that I had decided to plant roots in Clinton, and I was going to have to make an impact in order to build recognition for myself and my business.
It took me the better part of year to make hundreds of introductions, and shake an endless amount of hands, but I finally feel that I am a welcomed member of this community. But there lies the rub. In order to get recognized, you’ll have to put in a ton of sweat equity and time.
If you find yourself in a hurry to grab their attention, here are my 5 steps to speeding up the process
Join the local Chamber of Commerce
If you are in business, then you already know the importance of becoming a household name. You can have the best product in the world, but it will do nothing for your potential customer if they don’t know that you exist. The Chamber of Commerce hosts several networking events throughout the year. They are usually frequented by both old and new businesses in the community. Each person you meet may not only become a customer, but willing to share some solid advice on how to break into a new market place.
Pick their brains, and before you know it, you’ll have a solid action plan to establishing local fame!
Join a local Non-Profit Club or Organization
Every community has a Rotary, Lions or Kiwanis Club. Their membership is made up of teachers, attorneys, columnists, bankers, physicians and entrepreneurs. The goal of each club is to not only support humanity on a world-wide level, but also help their community through volunteer work. If you really want to be known as a man or woman who’s invested in the future of your town, spend some time volunteering. A large part of my business is constructed on volunteerism. I’ve been introduced to several new clients while ringing bells for the Salvation Army, dishing out pancakes at a fundraising event or breaking bread over our weekly luncheons.
The fastest way to become successful in any industry, is to help others first. I believe it all comes back around.
Sit on community committees
In Clinton, IA, there are several committees in which your expertise or industry knowledge will be greatly appreciated. I serve on committees for event planning, non-profit marketing and city development. Each one offers its own unique makeup of local professionals. Not only do you receive a ton of satisfaction by being a member of a community group striving to make a difference, but when that recognition goes public, guess whose name will be in print?
That’s right! YOURS! There’s no shame in getting involved for a seemingly selfish reason. I say as long as 80% of your interest is for the betterment of the community, and the other 20% can be for personal reward. Flip flop that, and you’ll be in trouble.
Develop a social life
I know that running a business is exhausting. Heck! Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. But the truth remains that 50% of business is performed outside of the office or store. That’s why it’s imperative that you attend local social events. Ribbon cuttings for new businesses are an excellent target! You get a chance to welcome a new business to the community, and 9 times out of 10, the event is photographed and published in the local paper the very next day.
But don’t forget my 80/20 rule!
Talk to people!
Sounds simple right? It’s not! Most people are terrified to spark up a conversation with a stranger. They fear rejection, or are under the impression that the other person doesn’t want to be bothered. Well I’m here to tell you that human beings like being social. At one point in our existence, it was rude not to talk to someone if you found yourself waiting in line at the local coffee shop, but in today’s society, silence seems to be the norm. If you really want to be known in a new town, you’ll have to get over your shyness, and meet at least one new person a day.
Extended your hand and introduce yourself. It costs nothing, and you never know how that greeting will develop. Some of my best friends were a result of a “Good Moring,” or “Have a nice day!”
It’s simple, FREE and insanely effective.
So that’s it. No giant revelation. No secret sauce, just some good old fashion communication and involvement.
Every day I crack open a book written to reveal the winning game plan for success, and every day I find myself disappointed by the content. Success means something different to every individual. It’s not something that can be bought and paid for.
It’s something that comes only when you are happy with yourself as a person. When you know that you are doing everything in your power to make this world a better place to live. Only then will you know what it truly means to be successful. At least that’s how I see it.
And if I can make a difference in my town of 28,000 friends and family well…
I can say that I’m successful!
Experience as shown that success is due less to ability than to zeal. The winner is who gives himself to his work body and soul” ~Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton