As so much of my business is predicated on “local” at the turn of this year I made it a high priority to invest a great deal of my own personal time into exploring the local environment. While the capacity to invest in local is applicable to every business, for me this was of particular importance as I had recently moved to the Boston area from Los Angeles. Beyond that I felt it was very important to take my own business outside of the theoretical and to infuse my practice with more hard-core local experience.
In large part these efforts have allowed my own business to grow, and provided me with a much greater understanding of what local needs really are which in turn allows me to deliver a much more compelling and relevant result for my clients. Overall, I’d have to say that this dedication to spending some of my time at a very “local” level has been a great decision, and one that frankly I believe has elevated my own business tremendously.
As I walked down the path one of the avenues that I pursued is to join my local Chamber of Commerce here in Sudbury Massachusetts. The Sudbury Chamber of Commerce has been particularly welcoming and has even invited me to the board which is been both very educational and also very meaningful in terms of achieving one of my primary objectives, that being to better understand the real “on the ground” needs of local businesses.
Without experiences like these my business would be a little less good, and just a bit less relevant. There is a big difference between theoretical versus real life experience. On the other hand, as a result of the investment I’ve made with the Chamber regarding my time and energy, my own business is now that much more focused, and as a result of my interaction with many other small business owners have a much clearer understanding of many of the real life needs and trials that each business owner faces in her everyday life. An added benefit is that many of these same Chamber members have also begun to enrich my personal life.
Of course nothing is free, and the Chamber has not been shy about picking my brain and encouraging me to contribute. The result is Sudbury Chamber of Commerce now has a brand-new website on which I provided much of the management for as well as a presence on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. We also introduced a newsletter for the Chamber which is proven to be one of their biggest traffic generators. I suppose given my own professional background anything less would have been unacceptable. All in all I have had a great deal of fun participating, learning and engaging the various members and by becoming an active player I have also greatly enhanced my own ability to sell “local.”
One item in particular that I would like to share with you all, particularly if you are in the Massachusetts area is a contest that Liberty Mutual is running called “Bring Back the 4th” where Liberty Mutual has generously declared their intent to help support local 4th of July parades by making donations of various amounts. I strongly encourage any of you interested to go check out their site, and fill out the contest form and help Sudbury win $10,000 for their Parade – I believe the deadline for entries is mid-June. I should also mention that the Parade is something that the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce is responsible for, and it is also something that I have taken an active role in.
In addition to the Chamber of Commerce I have of course begun to participate in a number of other organizations and events, and while I won’t detail each of them here, once again I would like to make the point that I believe part of being able to convey a meaningful local experience on behalf of clients is based on also in some capacity living a local experience.
Beyond pitching the benefits you’ll get from my business as a result, I would also like to strongly encourage all of you to get out there and to participate with your local business community in some way – while the results are not always immediate, I know you’ll begin to see a number of great opportunities to learn and also to make new connections, many of which are so important when trying to grow your business. Social is great, but there is something to be said for getting out there and shaking hands too!
Handshake Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sahajameditation/4625408407/in/photostream/