Step 2: Support from local businesses

The last few days I’ve been talking to a lot of people and thinking a lot about how local businesses can support the community. I previously wrote an overview of where the tech community in South Florida needs to reach out for support, and then how I saw the government playing a role in this, now its time to figure out how our homegrown businesses can help each other.

If there is any group that can benefit a lot from having a strong community, its the business community. The benefits are endless: earn business, recruit talent, get feedback on your products and services, network, and more.

So how can local businesses help each other and foster the community? Put their money where their mouths are. Start by sponsoring events, groups, meetups, tweetups, workshops and more. This enables the community to have opportunities to coalesce, share ideas, innovate, and communicate about these new findings. This is a relatively inexpensive option for most companies to dip their toes in. You’d be surprised at how many groups are out there that are merely looking for a place to hang out, some pizzas to eat, and some sodas to drink.

Another key thing the community needs: space. Not so surprisingly, many groups fail to take off here in South Florida for lack of space. Most groups don’t need large spaces to congregate, they just need some wifi, a place to connect their projectors, and air conditioning. If your company has that & is willing to share it, you should post in the comments below, I’m sure we can find someone desperate for the space.

Aside from supporting the local meetup groups and user groups, South Florida businesses need to promote each other. There is an old aphorism “a rising tide floats all boats” this holds especially true in our community. Start reaching out to other companies that complement your particular skill/service-set and work together to share referrals or leads. Ultimately it leads to lower customer acquisition costs and lower marketing costs. Don’t be afraid to send business to other companies, it will always come back many times over. You can ask all my friends, I refer business to other companies all the time, and am perfectly happy to do it.

One more thing I’d love to see is companies sharing their expertise and insights on working in South Florida. We need to create a mentorship system of sorts. If you have any ideas on how this could work, I’d love to discuss them.

As the founder of one of the larger community groups down here in South Florida, I can tell you we are actively working on building tools and solutions to help our members (both individuals and corporations) connect with each other and gain exposure to each other. With that in mind, we still need you to tell us you exist. Simply creating a company or product or service and expecting the users/customers/people to divinely find out about your service is not enough. The community wants to know about you, so tell us.

How do you think local South Florida businesses can help each other and foster the community at the same time?