Grow Your Business Locally by Hosting Community Events

Whether you’ve been in business for years or are just getting started, it’s vitally important for you to be a recognizable figure in your community. When your neighbors know who you are and what you do, you’re much more likely to stay top of mind and close more sales.

Hosting local events is a great way to get your face out there, allowing you the opportunity to network with new leads and stay connected with current and previous customers. Here are a few tips for organizing events that will put you on the map in your neighborhood without causing you any major headaches.

Plan a picnic or cookout

During the warmer months, this is a nice option for getting together with a lot of people in your area. If you’ve got a big backyard of your own, you’re halfway there. Just make sure you stock up on all the usual party essentials—food, drinks, cups, and utensils, along with plenty of chairs. You’ll also want to ensure that kids have something to keep them busy. How about some promotional Frisbees with your brand’s logo on them, which they can take home?

If you don’t have a yard that can support a big crowd, you could organize a meet-up in a public space. Try contacting someone from your local parks department to see what your options are (and whether you’ll need a permit).

And remember, for wherever you end up hosting: plan for a rain date or backup location in case of inclement weather. You’d be surprised how often people don’t.

Have a movie night

Does your community have a small, locally owned movie theater? If so, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll rent it out to you for a private event. This might sound like a lot to take on, but it’s actually easier than you might think. Plus, the manager of the theater should be able to help you out with logistics.

Typically, the theater can provide refreshments, though, in some cases, they might let you bring your own. Depending on the size of your group, you might also need to purchase a license to show the movie. (Tip: consider showing an older movie, as the fees are usually less expensive.)

Beyond that, it’s all about sending out invitations and—when the day comes—mingling with your guests. Be sure to book the theater for a few hours, so you’ll have plenty of time to chat with everyone before and after. Leave a sign-up sheet for your mailing list somewhere visible, and follow up with any leads soon after the event.

Another, less expensive option is to sponsor a screening of a movie. While this would no longer be a private event, you’d save money by not having to purchase a license to show the film. You’d also have your brand associated with the event, which would be good publicity.

Work out with your neighbors

If you’re a fitness enthusiast, you can leverage your workouts into opportunities to connect with your neighbors. Post flyers at your local community center about an upcoming group run, bike ride, or yoga session in the park. You don’t even need to worry about RSVPs for this event—just show up and wait for everyone else to arrive.

With a little luck, your group exercise session will become a recurring networking opportunity. Though you may not see a ton of people show up the first time, simple word of mouth will cause your impromptu fitness club to grow a little with each session.

As your new workout buddies get to know you, they’ll inevitably learn about what you do. Then, when they need the goods or services you provide, you’ll be the first person they call.

Sponsor a charity event

Here is a great way for you to get your name out there without assuming all the risk (or all the work). Lending your support to a charity event means having your brand associated with a good cause, which can only be viewed as a positive.

But don’t stop at financial sponsorship. If there’s there an opportunity to volunteer at the event, do so. Introduce yourself to members of your community. If you’re allowed, wear something with your logo on it. Just be sure to keep the focus on the cause and not on yourself.

Whatever kind of event you choose to get involved with, every time you get out into the community, you have an opportunity to build new relationships and nurture existing ones. With that in mind, you definitely shouldn’t neglect chances to promote your brand in small, meaningful ways. Set up a booth or table with free swag from your business. Give out a few business cards or copies of your magazine, if the opportunity presents itself.

Above all, make sure that people walk away from the event with a strong, positive impression of who you are. This will pay dividends for you down the line.

Written by Kevin McElvaney

Zealous wordie and reluctant writer of short bios.