How Do Social Prospecting and Community Involvement Lead to Business?

You’ve heard community involvement leads to business.  There’s just one problem.  It’s not working for you.  You joined the Chamber, attended networking events and discovered everyone you meet wants to sell you something!  Where are the movers and shakers?  Why can’t I get in front of them?

Our Story So Far...

You’ve joined a local non-profit or community group.  It might be the museum, symphony, historical society or the library.  It might be the Chamber or the country club.  You’ve attended meetings and met people.  You’ve bought tickets to social events.  People know what you do.  However, they don’t fit your client profile or aren’t interested in talking business.  What’s next?

Three Opportunities

You need to put yourself in a position where you are raising your visibility, delivering results and impressing people.  How do you do that at work?  By bringing in new accounts and revenue.  This approach works in your volunteer activities too.  Once you get involved, you will quickly discover there are plenty of people who know how to spend money, fewer who know how to raise it. Organizations have committees.  Three associated with the revenue side of the equation are membership, event planning and fund raising.  One of these functions is likely in crisis.  This is an opportunity to help the organization.  It’s also a chance to further your business objectives.  Why?  Because each activity can put you in front of HNW individuals. Let’s assume if you were in close proximity to the same HNW individual or couple several times, you have the skills to learn about them and the ability to tactfully bring up business.

Opportunity #1 – Membership

Now, we need a flow of HNW individuals.  Serving on (or chairing) the membership committee puts you on the revenue side of the equation.  Generally speaking, once you get a person to join a dues paying organization, there’s a pretty high percentage of annual membership renewals.  It’s like annuitized business in your practice. Your role in membership puts you in the position of gatekeeper.  New members might be relocated executives.  They don’t know anyone.  You meet them.  You introduce them around.  You are their first friend in the organization. You will make a significant impact if you can drive the membership effort with Open Houses, publicity, social media and advertising.  Now you are bringing in lots of people!  You are often the first point of contact.  You can see where this is going.

Opportunity #2 – Fundraising

Fund raising is often retitled as Development or Advancement.  Once again, you are on the revenue side of the equation.  Many community organizations hold events that need sponsorship.  Local businesses often step up to the plate.  The list of sponsors at the previous event is a good starting point.  You may know some business owners that might be a good fit too. Here’s the business viewpoint.  Who do you want as clients?  People with assets.  Philanthropists have money to give away.  It’s a good match.  Think about the high-profile people in the community you want to meet.  It’s easier to approach them on behalf of a charity (especially if someone they know comes with you) vs. Calling their office and asking for an appointment to talk about investing. You attend the event they supported alongside them.  You see they have a good time.  You introduce them around to the organization’s senior management, who thank them for their support.  You identify interests in common.  It gives you a reason to stay in touch afterwards. Here’s the really cool business opportunity.  You identify a business need.  Later on, as your friendship develops, you bring it up and introduce business.  You want them to become a client and turn over a check.  When you start a new relationship in your practice, is it easier to get the first check or subsequent checks as they get to know you better?  Most people say the subsequent checks.  In this instance, it’s “the first check” for you, when they become a client.  From their point of view, it’s “the second check” because the first one they handed you was their sponsorship for the event.

Opportunity #3 – Event Planning

Most organizations do event-based fundraising.  It’s a gold outing.  A gala.  An art show.  A cocktail reception.  These fundraisers often follow a formula that includes live and silent auctions.  Local businesses and families donate items.  They need to be pretty spectacular to get the attention of HNW people who have everything!  Here are some I’ve seen:  Dinner at a local restaurant with a Rolls Royce taking you back and forth.  A private plane flies you to Charleston, SC for lunch.  A vacation stay at a gatehouse at a Loire Valley chateau.  A four-night safari in Africa. Obviously, the people donating these auction items are doing pretty well for themselves.  They’ve got the Rolls or the plane.  They’ve got the chateau or safari connections. You want to be on the solicitation team lining up these spectacular items.  Make sure the donor attends the event.  Sit with them.  You might start the bidding; mindful you are buying it if you are the only bidder!  (That’s highly unlikely.)  You get to know them and identify interests in common. What do these three activities have in common?  They all benefit the organization.  They are all on the revenue side of the equation.  They put you in front of HNW individuals.  You are doing good for the group and helping your business by making the right connections. Related: How I Use LinkedIn to Boost Personal Connections