Building Community

Whether you are a small business owner, large corporate or a not for profit, working well with your community stakeholders can produce far greater results than ever before.

In this article, I share the lessons I have learned and examples of collaborative projects I have been involved with, during my 30 plus years in shopping centre management.

1. How can business and community better collaborate on an event/project for exponential mutual benefit?

Be a team that others want to be a part of. All too often great collaborative ideas fail when ‘partners’ don’t support each other. Being collaborative means working together as a team.

Build a profile and get the word out about your event/project. Promote what you are doing and how you will do it so others will understand and want to be aligned with you and/or the event/project. Build the confidence of others in you and the project

Collaboration is what makes the difference between a great event and an exceptional event or activity. More quality partners will want to be involved in this and future events.

2. How to develop a business case that will attract greater support and more attention.

Finding funds and resources, and knowing how to easily and comfortably ask for what you want and get it, is a highly valuable skill for anyone to possess.

Develop a great prospectus or proposal – a starting point with a range of options is a talking point for more.

Be flexible and willing to do what it takes to work together. Be open to alternative proposals to the one you may be presenting. You’ll increase the number of organisations or businesses wanting to partner with you.

Great preparation and advance planning BEFORE you approach your next prospect will make a huge difference to your capacity to engage and entice others to capture your vision and enthusiasm.

3. How to create a positive experience to better inspire and engage ongoing corporate/philanthropic supporters.

Deliver on what you promise and give value.

Delivering on your promise is a commitment from all parties to actually do what they said they would do.

Smart organisations don’t make excuses.  They make great stuff happen.

Doing what you say you will do helps build credibility and trust between you and your partners.

Most importantly, acknowledge the contribution of all stakeholders (corporates, volunteers) whether cash or in-kind.

4. Examples of successful partnerships.

Here’s an eclectic mix of examples from my personal experience that demonstrate the capacity of collaboration:

I was a member of the initial Steering Committee, comprising of Government Representatives, an Employment and Training Agency and an Indigenous Organisation to negotiate capital and operational funding and a lease to develop and open a new concept retail training centre at one of the shopping centres I worked in.

This project required collaboration and open dialogue, through some difficult challenges, among the five diverse business and not for profit organisations involved, each with equally diverse outcome objectives.

At the same centre we won a prestigious Community Marketing Award by facilitating the development and implementation of a ‘Youth Protocol’ initiative to manage youth behaviour in the centre rather than shifting the problem into the community.

The project involved collaboration among Police, Youth Organisations, Private and Government schools, the shopping centre owners and the community and included workshops, establishment of youth and adult committees for the initial development and continuing management of the protocol.

I was just one of a team of people that contributed to making these projects happen.

Achieving this level of success required true collaboration, passion and commitment on the part of all those involved.

Recognise the strengths and weaknesses of your own team. Allocate tasks and delegate appropriately. Identify the shortfalls, where you have gaps and find someone to fill them. Have a back up plan.

There is incredible power in connecting with your strong community spirit.

5. Final tip.

Again, it doesn’t matter whether you are a shopping centre or retail marketing manager or a not for profit organisation, work on these priorities and you’ll achieve a far better result for your efforts:

  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • What will your partners get out of it?
  • How will the community benefit?
  • How are you going to fund it (cash/in kind/donations)?
  • How will you measure success (attendees, profit, customer numbers)?

Flexibility and willingness to collaborate, opens the door to a whole range of new options that could lead to opportunities you hadn’t even thought of.

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