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How to Talk About Your Spoon Chapter to Local Businesses

There are many awesome things that come along with establishing a Spoon chapter—but your influence on food shouldn't stop at just your campus. I encourage you to think about the greater community (and the impact which you can have upon that) by reaching out to local businesses. The relationships that you establish with local businesses is two-fold– both your chapter as well as the local business will benefit from your partnership.

Speaking from my own experience (shoutout to Spoon Bucknell), our chapter has flourished thanks to our relationships with local businesses. But I can definitely admit, talking to local businesses is scary if you don't know how to go about doing it. 

Understanding the benefits of partnering with local businesses is one thing, while actually establishing those relationships is another. This blog post will go into detail about talking about your Spoon chapter with local businesses and establishing meaningful, long-lasting relationships.

Defining Spoon

Before you start reaching out to local businesses, it is important that you come up with a clear and personalized definition of Spoon. Spoon University is a unique platform, and sometimes, it's hard to come up with a simple definition that does Spoon justice.

Of course, when coming up with an explanation of Spoon, you can always turn to the About section of our website. But when you talk about Spoon to local businesses, you want to emphasize the aspects of Spoon that will benefit their businesses.

Coming up with a concrete definition of Spoon isn't easy. I've definitely spent a lot of time finding the best way to articulate all the awesome-ness that is Spoon University. Take your own definition of Spoon and edit it to fit the successes of your chapter.  

How many followers does your chapter have on Instagram? How many page views do your chapter's articles get? Local businesses are always looking to expand their realm of influence. Using concrete numbers will help local businesses clearly visualize how partnering with your Spoon chapter can be an asset to their business.

Does your school have a school-wide signature event? Think about times of the year when it may be best to partner with a local business. At Bucknell, we have a huge party weekend every spring, where there are a lot of drunk (and hungry) people. Taking advantage of that, we contacted food trucks in the local area and told them about the potential business they could make. The food trucks saw it as a great opportunity to generate a lot of business, while our chapter got free publicity for bringing these food trucks to campus.Talk about a win, win.

Do Your Homework

After you come up with your own unique definition of Spoon, and what your individual chapter does, you'll need to do some more prep before actually contacting a local business. (Hey, it's better to be over prepared than under prepared, right?)

It is important to have a good understanding of the local businesses that surround your chapter. Do you go to school in a city? Is the surrounding area rural? Make a list of the different businesses in your area that you would potentially consider partnering with.  

After you have that list, do a bit of background research on the companies. You probably already have a good understanding of your Spoon chapter's audience, but what are the audiences of the local businesses that you hope to partner with? Are their products or services something that would be appealing to college students? Ask yourself these questions and begin to narrow down your list. For example, partnering with an upscale restaurant where entrees cost $50 or more, may not be the best fit for your chapter to partner with.

#SpoonTip: Don't overlook your campus dining services. At Bucknell, we've partnered with our dining hall on multiple occasions. We've held our own BYOB Cereal (bring your own bowl) event for National Cereal Day to sampling new additions to the campus dining's breakfast menu. 

Don't Be Shy

After you've done your research, you've done almost all of the hard work. You're ready to reach out to potential businesses that you'd like to partner with. Though it may seem scary to contact to business owners, there really is little that can go wrong. The worst thing that could happen is that a business says no – and who needs them anyway?  

#SpoonTip: When contacting businesses it's always best to be professional, but still remain confident.

Go into meeting local business owners with your own ideas for partnerships – whether it be a special Spoon University dish at a favorite off-campus hangout, a "Spoon Approved" label on local restaurants, or an event – don't be afraid to get creative. Having well-thoughtout ideas to present to local businesses shows that not only you've done your homework but that you are serious about a partnership. But, at the same time, also be open to ideas from the business. It's all about collaborating. 

After meeting with a local business, it's always great to follow up and thank the business for their time.  Something as simple as sending a thank-you note or email to the business for their time goes a long way.  And (hopefully), will help to foster a long-lasting relationship with the business.