By Ray Huse
In BNI, we frequently talk about the VCP Process where Visibility builds Credibility, which leads to Profitability. It’s included in Member Success Program. We’ve covered it in BNI Heartland blogs, and podcasts many times. Ivan Misner, the founder of BNI, has also blogged and done podcasts about it. Lookup any of those links for more on the VCP Process if you’re not already familiar with it.
Recent events have made it harder to gain visibility through some channels. Without networking events, trade shows, or even the ability to open front doors, how do we get the Visibility we need to progress to the next level?
Much like traditional BNI meetings shifted to the BNI Online™ platform, consumers and other businesses have shifted in greater numbers to online resources to fill their needs. If you had a good established online presence and plan at the beginning of March in 2020, you were better prepared for this shift. If you didn’t, it isn’t too late to make a few changes that can certainly help. As areas of the Heartland, and the rest of the world looks to re-open borders and businesses, people are unlikely to completely leave behind the new online habits they have created.
The first steps to take are pretty basic: make sure your business and professional web and social profile pages contain the most current and up to date information. Does your Google page say that you’ve proudly been in business for 3 years, when it’s actually 7? Have you added or removed certain products or services you offer temporarily or permanently? Are your images and graphics stuck in 2002? Spend some time making sure these are all in order and update as needed. Refreshing these will increase your visibility to search engines, and make sure you make a good first impression.
BNI members should also take the opportunity to update their profile in BNI Connect. A classic line from our founder says that not filling out your profile is like taking out an ad and leaving it blank. This is still true. BNI professionals around the world use BNI Connect and Chapter websites to research potential referrals. When my aunt in Texas needs a roof, I wouldn’t refer a Nebraska company where I live, I’d look online to see who is in her area. This is where a complete and current profile can make a difference. While I feel I can trust BNI members knowing that they have been reviewed by their chapter’s membership committee, I’m more confident in my recommendation when I know more about them. If there are multiple options, the complete profile will be preferred by most people. Your Visibility online gives you a boost in credibility!
The next step is to make sure you’re sharing current and updated information through online channels. On a blog or your business Facebook page, detail the ways you are impacted by the current climate. Are you taking extra steps to ensure safety? Has the need for your services increased so dramatically that you’re facing delays? Are your hours limited? Clarifying where your business stands, especially if your competitor has not, will increase your visibility and credibility.
As far as personal visibility goes, video conferencing options have made Virtual One-to-Ones almost as effective as meeting in person. While using BNI Online, many members have become familiar with the Zoom interface. Free personal accounts have no time limit on One-to-One meetings. If you prefer Apple’s Facetime, Facebook Video Calling, Skype or other platforms use those instead. When you can use these options over a standard phone call or emails, you’re being more visible, helping to build credibility a little bit faster, too.
Finally, while some traditional avenues of visibility may be limited, online options and possibilities our flourishing. Facebook live and YouTube Channel videos are an excellent way to demonstrate products or explain services. And while people think they may need a certain level of technical ability or equipment to do this well, most of us have a sufficient toolbox in the smartphone we carry. The video is adequate for most streaming needs. Just make sure you can be heard. Viewers are more patient with less than perfect video if the content is good, and the presentation can be heard clearly. Zoom and other online platforms have made virtual gatherings more common, and our increasing experience with them has brought some creative uses to light. BNI Heartland regularly offers a region-wide Speed Networking event, for example, with members from all across the four states in our territory. You have the opportunity to see and be seen by others you might not otherwise have crossed paths with. (For details on the next event, see the BNI Heartland Facebook Page.)
What the future holds is never perfectly clear, but having a clear and visible digital presence has become more important in the last several years, and recent events have made it critical. Take some time with the virtual options available to build visibility, and credibility - and profitability - can follow.