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Before you say you have no time to give back, or that you are already doing it, know that this is not your typical post telling you that you need to give back to people who support you in your community. No, this article is all about you! It encourages you to give back as a small business owner because of what you will get. The activities mentioned below are ways you can receive a return on your investment of time. Here’s what you can do to help others and get something for your business in return: 

Free Resources Reduce Tire Kickers and Shorten the Sales Cycle 

Giving back doesn’t mean hours of volunteerism, although it can if you’re so inclined; but there is something you’re likely already doing for your business that will help you build a loyal audience of customers who turn to you as an expert. Content marketing, and giving away your knowledge for free, increase sales and build your reputation as a leader in the industry.  

Giving away content has another (secret) added benefit. It decreases the number of tire kickers your salespeople have to deal with by helping people self-qualify. Due to your free content, they have easy access to becoming an informed consumer. That means once they approach you to buy your service or product, they know they want it. They’re not just considering it. An educated buyer shortens your sales cycle and frees up your salespeople to work with more “sure things” and fewer “maybes.”   

Mentees Yield Strong Connections 

Another way to get involved in your local community that pays off for your business is by taking part in a mentor program. There are a number of options for businesses from Junior Achievement-type groups to a formal mentorship program through the chamber. You can even contact your local college that has a major in your area of expertise and offer your services as a mentor.  

Millennials have a strong interest in mentorship. Many want to have their own businesses someday. As a small business owner, you have a lot to give. 

But these young people also have a lot to give back to you. Building a relationship with a mentee not only gives you another perspective and can help you in marketing to their generation but it also adds a younger demographic to your network. This relationship can help you build a pipeline of young talent helping you easily locate interested interns and entry-level employees. 

Presentations Increase Word of Mouth Marketing 

There are numerous groups within your community looking for cheap (aka free) speakers for their organizations. These include associations, school groups, PTAs, the Alameda Chamber, and other membership organizations. These groups are resources for their audiences but they can’t do it alone.  

While most groups won’t allow you to give a sales-y presentation, many do appreciate your knowledge and expertise and will give you a plug at the end by allowing you to give out your contact information. This is a great marketing opportunity for you. You are presented as an industry expert and you have a roomful of people in a semi-captive situation during your presentation. No other form of marketing can say that.  

If you make a great impression, people will talk about what they learned from you. Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most powerful tools you have in your marketing arsenal.   

A Takeaway for Giving Back 

As actor Kevin Spacey once said, “If you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.” While giving back is the right thing to do, there’s also value in it for your business. By giving potential customers the resources they need to make an educated decision, and by helping tomorrow’s leaders get started on their dreams, you’ll help them and they’ll help you.