Last October, a little experiment was undertaken in my community. It was not a big deal compared to what most major cities do all the time. But, for my area, it was a real challenge. The community's only shopping center decided to have a "grand opening"...and it was hardly a new shopping center. This all began with a single merchant who was new to the shopping center. She wanted to have a typical Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony for her new office. But, there was a problem. Her office was so small that it could not accommodate a crowd. So, what does she do? She walks the entire shopping center trying to persuade all the other merchants that what is needed is a "grand opening" of the entire shopping center. She does not win every merchant in the shopping center over to her way of thinking. But, she does convince the owner of the shopping center and the majority of the merchants. On Oct. 18th of 2008, the Hardesters Shopping Center had the "second" grand opening in its 50+ year-history.
This grand opening was a tremendous success. The turnout for it was so huge that the next-door neighbor, the Greenview Restaurant/Golf & Country Club, later admitted to being jealous and wished to be involved in similar events in the future.
What made this shopping center grand opening such as success? Mutual collaboration between the tenants of the shopping center. Merchants actually helped each other out - physically and financially. They all shared in the cost of placing an ad in the local community magazine promoting the event. Many sent me "Dear Editor" letters which were used in a Squidoo site to entice news media participation. (See Hardesters Shopping Center Grand Opening Promotion. Bottom line, folks accomplished more working together they could ever have been able to do going solo.
It really does matter that you CARE, CONNECT and have some kind of DESIGN in mind for achieving success. You don't need to do it all, yourself. You simply need to CARE enough about being successful that you willingly CONNECT with other who have the skills you do not and will use them to help you out. Of course, there needs to be a benefit for them as well. And, that is why you need a good DESIGN - a way to make the win/win scenario come to pass.
I have already begun to assemble a win/win scenario which I hope will come to pass on April 15th. I have Scott Ullman of The Foundation Center coming to give a FREE Grant-Writing Seminar at my church for the benefit of all 300+ nonprofit organizations in my county.
To give you an idea as to how dysfunctional my county is, take a look at this. Visit Tools To Move Middletown, CA Forward and click on the Evite invitation link. Note that nearly 500 Evite invitations lack responses. Well, that is pretty close to the total number of invitations I actually sent out. But then, look at the total number of positive RSVP's. Where did they come from? Most of them came - not from Evite invitations at all - but from third-party word-of-mouth referrals.
I am convinced that when people figure out something taking place is in their best to attend, they not only respond in the affirmative, but encourage others to join them. At least, that is what seems to be happening on that Evite invitation site. I confess I have also sweetened the pot a bit by encouraging the bringing of promotional brochures and fliers to place on display.
Keep in mind I take this "mutual uplift" idea very seriously. I want the audience to receive a benefit from learning more about grant-writing. I want the audience to be able to promote their business to the crowd as well and possibly receive a benefit there as well. I want the church to receive benefits too - especially if permission is granted to record the seminar talk, burn it onto CD and sell the CD's to the audience in exchange for a tax-deductible donation.
The goal in this undertaking is to have a DESIGN wherein all the players come out winners. I certainly hope that happens.
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