Business Monday

Civic engagement: the ultimate multitasking business tool

Everyone multitasks.

The average person’s attention span is eight seconds, and we expect technology to help us do more, better and faster. However, businesses of all types and sizes often overlook a tool in the marketing arsenal that helps accomplish multiple goals easily and effectively.

It may sound old-fashioned, but that tool is getting involved in civic organizations. Civic engagement is the ultimate multitasking activity. Every volunteer opportunity is a chance to meet a prospective customer, employee, investor or partner, and of course to improve the community in which you live and work.

Yes, civic engagement has been around a long time. However, you can reap rewards just as measurable as a pay-per-click ad campaign.

It starts with having a plan. What groups should you engage in and who will take the lead? What are your objectives for involvement, e.g., business growth, recruitment, employee professional development? How much money and time are you willing to spend and how will you track and promote the results? Write it down. Then check the plan every three months. You get out of it what you put into it.

My work as the chair of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce is an excellent example of a perfect storm of multitasking benefits. I performed my duties at the Chamber while CEO and managing partner of rbb, an integrated communications agency based in Miami.

The Chamber serves as the voice of business in South Florida and addresses the top challenges and opportunities in our community. I invested almost a decade serving on committees, the board, the executive committee and ultimately as head of the chamber.

Along the way, I not only contributed to the Chamber’s success in convening the top thought leaders to offer solutions to our most pressing problems, I helped rbb’s current clients navigate through and maximize the Chamber. I picked up best practices to improve my business. I made relationships that led to new clients, two acquisitions and reaped personal benefits from recommendations to new vendors to vacation tips.

Within my agency, I lead a successful civic consulting practice designed for organizations that need help determining where and how they should engage. And I’m sure the people whom I helped find new customers, apply for awards to showcase their brands or even secure internships for their children will pay it forward, benefiting rbb for years to come.

South Florida is home to many organizations that need volunteer support. But rather than just writing a check, take the next step: Make a plan to engage, and follow it. You’ll be amazed at the long-term power of face-to-face relationship building in both your business and personal life.

Christine M. Barney is CEO and managing partner of rbb, a four-time national Agency of the Year award winner. She is the author of “The Breakout Brand Strategy: An Evolutionary Approach to Creating Customer Passion.” Her firm has offices in Miami, New York, Chicago and Raleigh. She was the 2015-16 chair of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce; her term ended Thursday.

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