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With the holidays upon us, ‘tis the perfect time of year to give back to your community! It’s a great way to say “thank you” to the community that supports you. Plus, as a small business owner, you’ll have the opportunity to make connections and perhaps get some free publicity for your salon through volunteering your time and/or your expertise.

There are so many ways to get started; make sure to choose a cause that best suits your personality and dedication level. Find a major local charity and ask how you can become a part of the team, or find a little-known cause with a unique story. If time is your biggest challenge, consider donating tools you may no longer need to an organization such as The Trade that teaches women who are victims of sex trafficking and abuse the art of hairdressing, manicuring, makeup application and salon business. Every holiday season, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve hosts its annual children’s fundraiser, Toys for Tots.

Contact your local chapter through their website and offer to be a donation station, collecting unwrapped toys for kids in need. All you need to do is wrap a large box in festive holiday paper and watch the donations pile up. It’s a great way to get some new faces through your salon too! Every flyer, social media post, and advertisement for this event will include the names and locations of the participating drop-off stations. This means increased traffic to your salon from potential clients who may have never heard of you otherwise.

Ever hear of Dress for Success? It’s a global charity that offers business attire for women in need. Offer to collaborate by donating a free hair styling or makeup application before the women go on their interviews.

Get inspired by Mark Bustos, a hairstylist from New York who provides free haircuts for homeless people. Consider teaming up with a homeless shelter or soup kitchen and volunteer your services for a “Free Day of Haircuts”. Organizations like these get crowded when the temperature drops and are always looking for an extra set of hands to help out. Or, get connected to a local non-profit and donate a gift package with free services to their annual holiday fundraiser. This is a great way to get eyes on your salon name and also a new client through the door! Once you have a plan in motion, it’s time to get some publicity for your salon, so spread the word!

Cross-promote your causes on various platforms. Let your social media followers know who, what, when, and where you’ll be hosting or participating in these events. Reach out to all your local news, radio, and television outlets via phone, email, and social networks. Be polite and precise in your message, especially since you’re dealing with busy people. Most journalists scramble for story ideas so if you can add a unique spin on your event, you’ll have an easier time peaking their interest.

If you are still having trouble getting someone’s attention: try, try, and try again. Make sure you follow up every single week until the day of the event. The goal is to foster a relationship with your local media. Building and maintaining a rapport is essential to free publicity, so always say thank you to those who do report your event. Using your manners is a sure-fire way of getting called for a comment the next time they do a story on the latest beauty craze or that skin or hair issue you’ve been successfully treating for years.

Spreading hope and kindness is what the holidays are all about; but don’t underestimate the emotional impact your efforts will have on you as an individual. In some instances, you may be restoring a person’s self-worth and dignity. Showing the needy a glimpse of their former selves or collecting toys for kids who may not otherwise receive any will stick with you much longer than the time it took to donate your time.

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