Originally published in the Denver Business Journal on October 14, 2019. Click here to view.
Small businesses are often the bedrock of local communities and economies. For this reason, a region’s culture and identity can often be tied to the businesses that have set up shop in the area.
If you run a small business, community engagement can be essential to your survival. That’s why we asked a panel of Denver Business Journal Leadership Trust members to share some tips for tapping into the local community to find talent, resources, customers and more. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Build a talent pipeline with local universities.
Vital Learning has found some of our top employees and some great part-time help by building relationships with local universities and community colleges. Doing this allows us to connect with highly motivated and bright young people entering the workforce! — Todd Macey, Vital Learning
2. Start a community mastermind group.
I facilitate a mastermind group with selected influencers in my local community. This gives me direct access to customers and potential customers as well as to what is happening in my local market. — Kimberly Lucas, Goldstone Partners
3. Boost your visibility by sponsoring events.
We’ve found that being visible in the community via volunteerism, sponsorship or speaking opportunities has brought us not only business but new talent and suppliers/resources. We often see an influx in each following event sponsorships and speaking engagements, as well as a steady flow from being involved with local organizations. — Nicole Marsh, Imprint Events Group
4. Partner with local business organizations.
Skillful works with partners like the local workforce centers, small business development centers, chambers of commerce, the Employers Council and several others to help open up scalable opportunities for Colorado job seekers. When companies change hiring practices to be more skills-based, they can access local talent faster, giving them a competitive advantage. — Shannon Block, Skillful a Markle Initiative
5. Volunteer as a company.
Company-organized philanthropic events are a fantastic way to engage with your local community and beyond. Last year, we launched our corporate social responsibility platform, and through quarterly events we not only established connections with local organizations but also with our employees, clients and partners. Those strengthened relationships eventually built new business opportunities. — Tom Bradley, Energy Real Estate Solutions (ERES)
6. Hire a ‘community ambassador.’
To better engage with local markets, we created a new community ambassador position. Our community ambassadors act as brand liaisons and are responsible for community outreach and engagement with job seekers and employers. Their primary responsibility is to serve as a resource to the local community, helping to place job seekers and tackle sourcing and retention challenges for employers. — Sioban Moore, Kelly Services
7. Invest in upskilling and educating community members.
We partnered with Couragion, Metropolitan State University of Denver and Colorado Succeeds to create and grow STEMpath, a 12-month STEM certification program for educators. We engaged with seven local industry partners to provide educators with summer externships. Educators learned valuable tools and teaching methods that upskill them and innovative ways to bring STEM to the classroom. — Kellie Lauth, mindSpark Learning