This article was updated on September 13, 2021.
Think back to the memorable neighbors you’ve had in your life. Maybe they were generous with leftover baked goods, leaving treats on your front step after a particularly prolific afternoon of cookie-making. Maybe they were understanding and kind as your baby spent long nights crying through a painful ear infection. Or, maybe they were excited to throw joint parties with you on all the major neighborhood holidays.
Neighbors like that are priceless. As we approach National Neighbor Day on September 28, and in honor of Neighbor Month, it’s important to remember that as a small business, you are also part of the neighborhood and can make the same kind of impact as the neighbors we’ll never forget.
Neighbor Month is a time to celebrate those in our communities who are doing good and coming together to play a positive part in the places we live. Read on for tips on how your business can become an integral part of your neighborhood.
4 ways to be a neighborly business
Being neighborly can be described as being kind, generous, compassionate, and willing to help create a culture of support and care in your neighborhoods. Businesses can do just that as well. Here are a few ways your business can be one that your neighbors count on:
#1 Support a local initiative
What’s a local cause that’s currently at the forefront of your community? Listen to what a few local advocates have to say and ask yourself what you can do to get meaningfully involved.
Whether you choose to sponsor a charitable event, set up a scholarship for aspiring entrepreneurs, or serve on the board of a local committee, these are all ways that you, as a business, can show your neighbors that you care.
For inspiration, here’s what other businesses have done:
- Pop Pie San Diego offered up their restaurant as the after-party venue for their local elementary school’s fun run.
- Nesting Box Market and Creamery donated over 150 eggs a month to a local food pantry.
- Doylestown Bookshop sent books to COVID patients in isolation in nearby hospitals.
- Real estate agent Drayton Saunders and his company started a council of local agents to help connect those in need with housing and food.
#2 Share your knowledge
Some neighbors are handy with finicky plants. Others always have exactly the right tools to help you fix that pesky leak under your sink. Some may even give you guidance on filing taxes!
Helpful neighbors know to share their knowledge with their community. Chances are, you’re good at what you do and have a lot of knowledge that community members would love to tap into.
Offer an in-person session or set up an online webinar to showcase your expertise in a certain area. Not only will it give you an opportunity to engage with your neighbors in a meaningful way but it will also lay the groundwork for locals who may be interested in pursuing a career in that industry.
Take a look at business owners like Jyll Hubbard Salk, founder of a Brooklyn-based yoga studio, or Misty Skolnick of Uncle Jerry’s Pretzels. They teamed up with a few other panelists to host an online webinar geared towards helping small businesses get back on their feet amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Find a local need, address a hot topic, and help out your local community by bringing whatever expertise you have to the table for sharing.
#3 Support your local environment
Finding opportunities to go green isn’t just a way to positively impact the planet. It can make a real change right in your backyard, too.
- Compost – Set up a compost tumbler for lunchtime food scraps and other compostable items. Use the decomposed organic matter later on as soil that you can donate to community gardens and parks.
- Plant native plants – Support your local ecosystems by decking out your outdoor spaces with native plants. Native plants are more sustainable since they’re naturally acclimated to your region’s environment and they support beneficial pollinators like butterflies, birds, and more.
- Offer discounts for customers who practice sustainability – It’s one thing to remember to sort through the recycling, it’s another to get the whole neighborhood in on environmentally friendly practices. Take a page out of Kerry Diamond’s book. Owner of the Brooklyn coffee shop Smith Canteen, Diamond began offering 10% discounts to customers who would bring in reusable mugs. You can also offer online discounts by sending promo codes to individuals who email proof of donations to environmental organizations.
#4 Pay attention to vulnerable neighbors
Being neighborly means lending a hand when needed, even if that’s doing something as small as taking out a sick neighbor’s garbage bins before trash days. By being mindful of your community’s vulnerable populations and what they’re going through, you can show that your business will always keep the community in mind.
For example, Yakult Co, which specializes in making probiotic beverages, has upheld a long-standing tradition of engaging with their local elderly and disabled community. For 40 years, Yakult employees have made it a practice to visit, run errands for, and check in on senior citizens and disabled neighbors, doing wonders for some of their most overlooked communities.
Being a neighborly business on Nextdoor: Tips and tricks
Your business is hugely important to the local community. There’s no better way to connect with your neighbors than on Nextdoor - the neighborhood hub. On Nextdoor, your business can grow its reputation with a Nextdoor Business Page, engage one-on-one with neighbors through free Business Posts, and share sales promotions through Local Deals.
3 easy ways to connect with your neighbors using your business account
Whether you’re updating your Business Page, making Business Posts, or sharing Local Deals, keep these things in mind to be a business your neighbors can count on.
#1 Provide up-to-date information.
When neighbors visit your Business Page, they should see the latest information about your business. Take care to update your business hours, phone number, and email address. If you now offer local takeout or delivery options, mark the fields that show as such. While it may seem tedious to keep your online presence updated, you’ll have a better chance of earning new customers if they have a clear understanding of what you offer.
#2 Respond promptly to private messages or comments on your posts
Always try to respond promptly and thoughtfully to inquiries from customers or potential customers. This allows you to quickly clear up any confusion, tout your goods or services, and build relationships – before neighbors seek the same information from a competitor.
#3 Make sure your Business Posts and Local Deals are relevant to the neighborhood
If you live within the same community as your business, your member account provides you insight into what topics are of interest and trending from fellow neighbors. This is a big opportunity. Are neighbors looking for a home service provider who takes COVID precautions very seriously? Or are they looking for a restaurant with outdoor seating? Let that information inform the content for your next Business Post and Local Deal.
As a local business owner, it's important to be involved. In addition to claiming your Business Page, make sure you're also participating as a neighbor within your community.
4 tips on how you can use your personal Nextdoor account to be active in your community
While your business account on Nextdoor is meant to be about your brand and the goods or services you offer, member accounts on Nextdoor are meant to help you keep up with your neighbors, friends, and family that live in your local neighborhood. It’s where you can give or get help, receive trusted information like local recommendations, and build real-world connections.
As a small business owner, you’re not just someone who provides something of value to the community—you’re a member of that community, too. The more you engage with your fellow neighbors, the deeper those connections will run—both in your personal and professional life.
Here are four ways you can use your neighbor account plug into your community.
#1 Get involved
As a business owner, there are many ways to use your member account to show that you are neighborly. Reply to neighbors’ questions, use a polite and respectful tone, and when new neighbors join, welcome them to the community. Participate because you genuinely want to be a good neighbor and positively contribute to the community. Neighbors will begin to recognize you and your contributions.
#2 Recommend other local businesses and share your business expertise when appropriate
Neighbors seek help and advice from fellow neighbors on Nextdoor for everyday decisions and tasks. Respond to neighbors’ requests for recommendations with the names of your local favorites. You may also proactively recommend your own favorite local businesses – doing so boosts the number of recommendations on their Business Page and creates goodwill, and also shows your willingness to promote other businesses within the community. If neighbors are seeking a good or service that pertains directly to your business, chime in and suggest they try your business.
#3 Invite neighbors and fellow business owners on Nextdoor
More neighbors on Nextdoor means more people to connect with and help one another. Make use of your free mailed invitation letters by sending them to anyone who is not yet on Nextdoor. When out and about in your neighborhood, mention that you run a local business to any neighbors you talk to and invite them to stop by sometime. If your favorite local businesses aren’t yet on Nextdoor, invite them to claim their own Business Page so they can build their local reputation.
#4 Add your business and business title to your member profile.
If neighbors want to learn more about you, they can visit your member profile. Don’t forget to include your link to your Business Page within your member profile.
As a small business, you are a vital part of your neighborhood. Be a business your neighbors rely on and keep these tips in mind during Neighbor Day and all-year long.
Entrepreneur. These Corporations Ensure Their Longevity by Being Good Neighbors. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235942
RisMedia. Charitable Giving. Why and How REALTORS Give Back. https://rismedia.com/2018/08/19/charitable-giving-realtors-give-back/
The Morning Call. Health care and city workers, animal advocates, bakers and more: Here are the women Morning Call readers nominated as difference-makers in the Lehigh Valley. https://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-nws-lehigh-valley-women-20210330-ic5yhgllc5dtfpna6valcc3u5q-list.html
Twitter. Doylestown Books. https://twitter.com/DoylestownBooks/status/1247539551578386436
Friends of Alice Birney Elementary. Go Team Green! http://friendsofalicebirney.org/2018/03/it-is-our-last-week-go-team-green/
Eater. Can a Better Reusable Coffee Cup Finally Replace Disposables?. https://www.eater.com/2019/2/7/18214017/travel-mugs-coffee-keep-cups-trend
Claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. For resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers, pertinent news affecting businesses, and more, follow us at @nextdoorbusiness on Facebook.