As an enterprise, it’s important to hold active connections with the small business community. Not only are many of your goals complimentary with huge potentials for collaborations, it usually helps the enterprise’s reputation to be supported by small business. Consumers are a lot more likely to trust you if you have the local, green-friendly, progressive businesses on your side.
Here are some methods for engaging your local small business community:
"Engaging with small businesses can create new business, increase your company's reach and aid in increasing your reputation with industry stakeholders." (Image by The Internal Association, used under CC)
Interact with your local small businesses through social media. Follow them on all of your social media outlets, comment on their posts, and post content interacting with their business. Be mindful of not spamming them and not seeming too desperate for a response. For example, never ask anyone on social media to check out your page or to like a photo of yours. Instead, congratulate them on their programs, thank them for helping to build the local community and let them know you’re really paying attention to what they’ve been doing. Inviting them to join you for an event - if that event has solid relevance to the post you’re commenting on - can be one great way to interact.
Host community based events where you invite local small businesses to establish a connection. Get clever with these. You can host round table dinners where there’s a local issue to discuss (keep it light-hearted), or perhaps carefully crafted questions to spur positive, open discussions. You could even host a sports day aimed at local small business owners. The guests will be grateful, as you spent your time and budget to make this happen, and they will have made some great connections with other local business owners.
Whether it’s a cross-promotion, an event, a social media outreach, or a fully integrated campaign, collaborations are great for companies to work together and to mutually benefit. Find a way for both parties to gain from the collaboration, to make it worthwhile and sustainable. One fun thing you could do to boost your social media presence is to allow someone to do an Instagram takeover. Find a company with a good eye for aesthetics and a beautiful Instagram gallery and have them guest post or curate your Instagram feed.