How to connect – and prospect in a small town

I found this article on the VIIA website today and wanted to share with everyone as it has some relevant tips for the small town/rural members.  What are some things you do that work for you?



How to connect — and prospect — in a small town

Aug 27, 2015 | By Bryce Sanders

Embrace the culture with a generous spirit and you will be accepted in your small community.

“No prophet is accepted in his own hometown.” This Biblical quote has parallels in many cultures.

You grew up in town and moved away. Now you are coming back. Perhaps you are stepping into the family business. How do you get accepted and become part of the social fabric? How do you find prospects?

    1. Meet the neighbors – Don’t wait for people to seek you out. Walk over and ring the bell. Your next step will be to invite them over for drinks or a BBQ. They will have known the previous occupants and wonder about your backstory.
    2. Shop locally – Groceries and housewares are cheaper at the big box stores. Focus your shopping on Main Street instead. You are showing your support for the town.
    3. High school – If you are from the town, you likely attended high school here. The alumni or sports connection is usually very strong. They likely have reunions and booster events. High school defines: “you are one of us.”
    4. Religious organization – Join yours and attend regularly. It aligns you with a group of local residents.
    5. Waving – Now you know some people. When your cars approach each other, wave at the drivers you recognize. They should wave back, an early sign of acceptance.
    6. Snow shoveling – Chores need to be done. If you are digging out your driveway, walk next door and start on your neighbor’s drive. This is a great help, especially if they are elderly. People see you helping neighbors.
    7. Coffee shops and luncheonettes – Pick one for breakfast and another for lunch. Ideally, they are near your office. Go every day, greet people and chat with everyone.
    8. Supermarket – Town squares and community centers aren’t the real place neighbors meet. You are likely to run into plenty of people you know in the aisles of your local supermarket. Dress well, avoid reading the scandal sheets at the checkout and say hello to people you recognize.
    9. Bank locally – Even if your investments are held elsewhere, open a personal checking account at the local bank. They are woven into the fabric of the local community.
    10. Volunteer for causes – The high profile ones will become apparent. Sixty-nine percent of firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers. Your local fire company may be a big draw for local residents. Some ride on trucks, others flip pancakes or write checks. Aligning yourself with some good causes shows you give back.
    11. Know the industry – Unless it’s a commuter town, something sustains your community. It might be farming or the big auto plant. Understand the business and its relationship to the community. It’s a sign of respect.
    12. Family connections – In England, they say things like, “My people have lived here for 300 years.”  If your family comes from the town, take advantage of local connections.  Your family name probably gets positive recognition which will help in getting accepted.

Now for some don’ts

It’s easy to get ostracized. Tongues wag. Don’t give them something to talk about.

    1. Don’t take over – You join a community group. The cause is good but the leadership is stuck in the last century. Resist the urge to run the show. They may not be good event planners, but they are great at freezing out people they don’t like.
    2. Don’t resist the culture – If you move to the South, expect religion and country music to be part of the local fabric. Don’t vocally denounce things that are important to other people.
    3. Don’t flaunt wealth – Old money whispers wealth. New money shouts it. People wonder what you are trying to prove.
    4. Don’t look down on others – “We don’t eat pigs feet back East.” This implies you are better than others.
    5. Name drop – Mentioning the names of famous people you have met implies you travel in those circles while others don’t. It’s usually seen as another sign you won’t fit in.

Small town life often involves “Going along to get along.” Embrace the culture with a generous spirit and you will be accepted in your new (old) community.


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