Almost two years has passed since I started this fanatical journey of civic promotion, and I have been astounded by the escalating pride that Edmontonians continue to emote. What once was a city struggling with identity and self-esteem is transforming quickly into one filled with aspiration and conviction. It’s a transformation that has caught the attention of the rest of Canada, and it’s a transformation that could use the help of all 1.2 million people in the Edmonton Region.
Here are 10 really simple ways that everyone can help:
1. Learn the Language: Many of us don’t know how to describe our city or feel armed with the language and stories to answer the question “Why Edmonton?” So I encourage everyone to go to www.makesomethingedmonton.com and explore the Why Edmonton section … and suddenly you will find yourself part of our 1.2 million person marketing department that has a responsibility to be out there talking up our great city.
2. Become a Tourist: Aunt Susan from Saskatoon is coming for three days? What on earth are we going do with her? It is time to become a tourist and a tour guide in your own city by using www.exploreedmonton.com and learn how to build itineraries such that when Aunt Susan calls and asks that dreaded question, “So what are we going to do?” you know exactly how to respond.
3. Convene a Meeting: We all belong to something … a professional organization, a religious group, and association or a bird watching club … it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we start hosting these groups here for their annual conventions, conferences, training programs and celebrations. You want to do something big for your city? At your next meeting ask, “How can we start the process for Edmonton to become the host city for GlobalHQ Conference2018?” Then connect with us at EEDC, as we can help you pursue that big win.
4. Support Local Entrepreneurs: Money spent with local entrepreneurs contributes 8x the value to our local economy. Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood to our growth and prosperity, and we all can help by thinking about what business we can do with them. Local restaurants, bars, meat & vegetables, furniture, clothing, pipes, values, gardening plants … the list goes on and on … all you have to do is think about what you spend money on, and figure out how we do that locally.
5. Send an Invitation: Take a beautiful picture somewhere in the city … one of your favorites … and send it along with an invitation to a friend or relative you haven’t seen for way too long. Invite them to Edmonton for one of our festivals or events or just to dine around. The city has changed and you have the opportunity to take the lead and show it off. Find an event, issue your invitation and reconnect with someone from your past.
6. Become a Volunteer: One of the best ways to experience the Edmonton culture is to volunteer for a major event … and it’s free. Volunteer experiences not only connects you with hundreds of likeminded people in pursuit of a cause, but you become an immediate ambassador for your event and our great City. The more you get involved, the more you get connected, the bigger your network and the faster ideas can travel. That’s the magic of volunteering and the magic of Edmonton.
7. Smile A Lot: Walking down the street, running in the trails, opening a building door … in an elevator (gasp!) … you never know who you come across, and you never know who is forming their first impression of Edmonton. So simple … but so easily forgotten … and it’s one of those free gifts that you can give to every visitor to our city.
8. Make a Connection: Meeting someone new to Edmonton? Then introduce them to one more person. Nothing is more impressive to a newcomer than getting them connected to the community. So think of someone that the newcomer should know, and make the promise to connect them right there and then. Make the phone call or send a three-way email right there in front of them … your generosity will blow them away … and they become better and better connected in our city. Take a risk and do it for their spouse as well, and they will thank you by talking about what you did for them forever.
9. Invite People Back: As tourists and business visitors connect with you … which they will … because you smile a lot … ask them, “When are you coming back next?” before they depart. It’s a fantastic question to ask that really leaves them with a sense that the community cares and that we want them here … which we do. In retail it is called customer service. In the economic development business, we call it stickiness. So simple, but so effective. Try it … ask it genuinely … and then watch the reaction … they’ll be back.
10. Go See the World: Go. Go travel. See the world. See as far as you can. Meet people. Break bread. Share with them our story … your story. Invite them to visit. Be alert to new ideas. Share those ideas. And come back and Make Something Edmonton.
Welcome to our marketing department … soon to be 1.2 million people strong … with a unified voice. I encourage each of you to be a part of it … in your own simple ways … because the success that the Edmonton Region is having, and will continue to have, needs to be shared … and I’d like you to be a part of it.
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11. Celebrate those that leave, as some must. Cheer them on and support them from here rather than cutting them down or out. When they are boosted in their absence they become potent apostles of Edmonton, spreading positive stories far afield. They are also more likely to bring their successes home and/or promote others still here to success elsewhere. They can become the Edmonton foreign service.