Building an effective business community for everyone is not done by luck.
You might be lucky to have some good natural features, but that’s not enough
Academics and governments tend to discuss how global forces shape the choices we need to make about our communities, rather than the needs of the real people who live there.
It’s great to think in terms of ‘community development’ and ‘community strategies’, but it is the individual choices and actions that are the primary drivers of an effective thriving community.
Without large capital expenditure, growth and prosperity can only come about through increasing entrepreneurial participation and this requires a catalyst, to provide you with endless opportunities.
Being involved with a network or cluster can help businesses to thrive.
Business owners who get involved with co-working spaces and networking hubs, including business incubators during the start-up phase, multiply their chances of success.
Whatever challenges you face as a business owner, they can be eased with the help of a solid network of contacts working in harmony. Taking the initiative to become involved can help your business or not-for-profit organisation grow while helping the community to become more effective, thrive and become a better place to live.
Businesses need to know how to build business connections simply because running any organisation by yourself is too hard. You need to be able to access a range of skills to compliment your own.
To leverage what is possible in your community the key elements include the businesses, not-for-profit organisations and the community at large with people as the central focus.
Having these elements working in harmony and helping each other will make a tremendous difference across everybody’s operations.
Set up you contact database
The first step towards setting up community networks or clusters is mining the power of social media to understand the possibilities for the new outcomes. Who are the start-ups, established businesses and organisations, the facilitators, coaches and mentors, financiers, media and so on?
Set up your contact database, which provides avenues for you to promote and build connections for establishing new projects and creating and the action orientated environment so necessary in making a difference.
Don’t forget to add people and organisations remote to your proposed networks and clusters who can help with connections, resources and supplies.
Decide on the structure of the proposed networks or clusters
Who will be the executive director and co-founders? The team tries to follow their values in everything they do, from their online presence to asking for the opinion of local residents.
What will the technology platform be used, look like? What will be the cost structure? Members can pay different levels of subscription fees depending on how often they use it, the type of support they want and the number of events they attend.
Prepare marketing collateral
To set the network or cluster up properly, flyers, business cards and presentation materials are important. Keep in mind that when people know who you are they are more inclined to come along to your event or to think of you for future projects for the community.
Find out who local journalists are ready for any press release you might want.
The community must be relevant to its members
You need to be very open and inclusive and work in a collaborative way.
The local business owners that have become members might put in a lot of free time to help build the network or cluster. So it’s not a service, but a member-built community.
Plan an effective launch event
A number of business and technology networks or clusters can be too formal for some.
The first step towards friendly networking is to make initial group events free, friendly and informative. An organisation might sponsor light refreshments. Pick somewhere central that will be easily accessible and simple to find.
Encourage collaborative input
Members of the community should be encouraged to attend regular, informal meetings or informal get together for coffee or a light meal.
Members have a range of expertise and there’s always someone in the group that can answer a question, even if it’s only where to look for an answer to a problem.
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The skill set of a business networks or clusters can be extremely varied. Members usually come from diverse and rapidly changing environments.
However, congruent values and commitment are needed to build and effective business community. Build your networks and clusters with people that are caring, and sharing and willing to contribute to the common good.