Anytime you can gather two or more of your prospects, future prospects, clients and referral sources there is community building going on. Nothing grows a loyal customer like a connection to something bigger than the product or service you happen to provide.
I recently spoke to a group of retailers and suggested that community building was their greatest weapon against the chain stores. A great way for local merchants to make this concept tangible is to create a physical community space and allow the community members (prospects and clients) to use it for PTA meetings, lunches, anniversaries, and fund raisers. You can make the space available for free or charge a token amount, either way, your connection to the community grows.
This concept isn’t limited to retailers. Any office with meeting space can extend this service to clients and prospects.
If you know of a business that has employed this strategy in a unique way, I would love to hear about it.