Connecting your business with college students can be beneficial for both parties, but reaching this sought-after demographic can sometimes pose a logistical challenge. To remedy this, we have come up with three ways to best connect businesses with campus student organizations and forge the connections necessary to build a relationship.
- Help Them Fundraise
Student organizations often partner with companies or brands for fundraising purposes. The best time to reach out to these groups is often at the start of the fall semester when new leaders begin settling into their positions and clubs start developing fundraising goals for the year.
You will likely work with one or two members of the group’s executive board who will need help motivating their fellow members to participate. One way to encourage participation is to include incentives for superior performance into your program. It’s also important to understand that every organization is different – for some participation is voluntary, and for others, it’s mandatory. Be sure to ask how the executive board motivates its general membership to figure out how to tailor your approach.
One of our clients’ charitable arms followed a similar strategy: it supplied each team with a $500 stipend to use toward their campaign and a video camera to document their journey. The students built websites, integrated campaigns, built a strong company brand using graphics and slogans, and planned fundraising events, among other things. Upon the conclusion of the initial challenge in spring 2012, the student agencies raised over $10,000 for their organizations and had their proposed campaign materials and techniques implemented by their clients.
- Help Them Get a Job
Ultimately, you want to help students land an opportunity, whether it’s through building their resume, getting them an internship, or offering your advice. Some student organizations have hundreds of members, so attending a meeting as a guest speaker can be a smart way to reach large groups of students in a short amount of time. To begin, contact the executive board and express interest in becoming a guest speaker at an upcoming meeting. To secure face time, focus your presentation on topics relevant to their membership such as how to land a job or how to network. Tie in your services or product at the end of your presentation and always bring handouts to distribute during your speech. We used this strategy with Men’s Wearhouse to give talks on dressing for success in front of student organizations.
It’s also best to target campus organizations that share missions similar to your business. Our friends over at Campus Buzz gave us a great example: for instance, if you own a pet store, you should reach out to the pre-veterinarian or humane society organizations on campus. Create meaningful, sustainable relationships with these organizations so that you can benefit each other. A list of student organizations can usually be found online through student life activities boards, programming boards or department websites along with their contact information.
- Feed Them
If you want to pump up attendance for a particular meeting, buy pizza to serve before your presentation. Events advertising free food are almost always better attended than those that don’t. Providing the executive board with flyers about your talk will help get the word out.
After the meeting, stay a while to talk with the students and encourage them to contact you. The ones who stay in touch can be great resources for additional information about the campus, or even leads for future interns.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Image credit: CC by Jirka Matousek