Lesson 1. Here Are The Keys To Succeed When Engaging With A Local Community
To gain local communities' trust, patience is keyGetting Started
- Don't be a carpetbagger. Don't swoop in with a team of lobbyists and a PowerPoint presentation to a local community meeting to advertise your product. Your outreach plan should embed a team member in the local community so that they can participate regularly in local neighborhood association meetings, for example. Be intentional and purposeful. Build relationships, not transactions.
- Listen. Take the time to understand that in many vulnerable communities, lack of broadband access, inclusion and equity are just a few of a whole litany of issues, such as affordable housing, access to quality education, and healthcare that they face.
- Acknowledge the depth, urgency and complexity of these other issues. (Unlike you, not everyone is thinking about BEAD grants!)
- Understand the depth of the concept of the digital divide, and what it really means. The issue is not just about physical infrastructure. It's also about education, opening windows to opportunity through training, workforce development and affordability. You can build the infrastructure, but if access to the infrastructure is not affordable either because pricing is too high, or end-users can't make the most of the opportunity through training and education to get a job, then it's a waste of grant money because the service will suffer from a lack of demand.