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First Nation Organizations: 14 Ways To Engage Your Community

Hands Raised For Community

As a First Nation organization with numerous departments to run and programs offered to the community, many managers struggle with reaching membership in a meaningful way in order to increase interest, enrolment and long term commitment in the nation's higher education and learning programs.

As with any service or product offering, people have to understand what the benefits are to their lives. And, they need to see a message multiple times through various communication channels before they even think about taking action. Rule of thumb is that our brains don't even register a targeted message until we've seen it at least 8 times!

On average, we view a minimum of 6,000 branded sales messages a day vying for our attention and mindshare. In order to compete and stand out in a noisy media environment, here are 14 ways you can do more effective outreach to get targeted membership interested in your (higher learning and entrepreneurial) programs:

  1. Segment membership into targeted lists of demographics, interests and goals. Place member contacts in a Customer Relationship Management system that keeps tract of their progress where you can tailor communications to their interests. Eg. Entrepreneurship vs. trades or other training programs.

  2. Ensure your nation has a professional, interactive, eye-catching website with a section devoted to each area of government. Eg. Education and training with its own great content distributed through the website and social channels.

  3. Create social media accounts that are active, interesting and inspirational with posts on relevant (Eg. education and training) information and success stories that inspire people to act.

  4. Start an e-newsletter that delivers compelling community education and inspirational information, photos and videos of nation management and members doing exciting things. Highlight member career achievements. (Success breeds success!)

  5. Develop content that is informative, fun, invites action and delivers inspiration posted in all communication channels, online and offline.

  6. Display advertisements of upcoming programs on all community bulletins and public signage, send it out through email alerts and post ads in social channels.

  7. Deliver a dynamic Speaker Series promoting topic experts on Indigenous career and business advancement or industry related information. Eg. "How To Start And Run A Business in Renewable Energy"

  8. Organize events with a theme and speakers that caters to career and entrepreneurship, trade shows and networking. Eg. Your nation promoting "Indigenous Women in Business Networking Event" or "Youth Career Builder Event" with topic experts, workshops and networking.

  9. Gain valuable media coverage on nation community progress around small business and career advancement, include it in all online and offline nation publications to encourage community pride and more member involvement.

  10. Conduct surveys (telephone, online and in-person) to better understand your membership audience. Ask what they want to achieve in their lives and careers and what sort of resources they would access and be committed to.

  11. Come up with a reward system for each person that enrols and completes a certain number of higher learning courses or programs.

  12. Offer ongoing coaching and mentorship to people who are committed and really want to advance their careers and start or grow businesses. You could set up a mentorship program for youth matching them with experienced business owners from the community and with industry professionals who are affiliated with the nation.

  13. Start an Internship program where members can gain experience in a particular field (through nation partners) and see if they enjoy it as a career choice. Also, this will give the individual a foot in the door for employment at the sponsoring company.

  14. Create an Awards Night Celebration for those who are "Going For It" in business whether as an entrepreneur or as a professional in a particular field. Make it a formal, dressy affair and recognize people's great achievements. Include the winners in the community newsletter/e-news and recognize their outstanding commitment to their craft and how they give back to the community through job creation, economic development, mentoring and volunteering.

These are a number of ways that your nation can reach out to its membership encourage two-way communication and feedback, increase interest in education and training programs, and develop greater economic diversity through small business development. Anytime you want to create awareness and attract people, it requires a dedicated, strategic communications effort over time that is always tracking progress and being refined. It may seem daunting to get it all set up at first but once you have the marketing communications system in place, much of it can be automated and it will feel great to see more people succeed at careers that they really enjoy!

Success inspires more success. It's such a domino effect. Give it a go and watch what happens. We'd love to hear if you implement even one of the ideas above and how you make out. Please let us know by calling 604-687-2004, emailing us at or finding us on our social channels!

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