Whether you are an introvert who likes quiet, meaningful conversation with a few trusted friends, or an extrovert who enjoys being in the middle of a crowd of people, relationships are essential for our well-being. Many extroverts, like me, discovered our inner introvert during the shut-down. I missed events, meeting new people, and growing my network, but I also loved the slower pace, catching up on reading and writing, and enjoying some me-time.
Some people are naturals at relationships. My sister never meets a stranger. She has in-depth conversations in line at the grocery store that would make you think the other person was someone she had known her whole life and not a stranger she happened to be standing next to in the checkout line. Many others are less outgoing and struggle to reach out to new people. Creating strong relationships, especially in business, is easy when you understand VCP. If you have ever recommended someone to a friend only to have them drop the ball, you will realize how vital VCP is.
V stands for Visibility. Visibility is when you know someone’s first name, last name, and what they do. In business, this is critical because people must know who you are before they even begin to call on you to buy your product or services. You can’t depend on just one route to Visibility, and today more than ever, social media makes the path to Visibility accessible to everyone. Networking, both in-person and virtually, can raise Visibility as people learn more about who you are and what you do. Remember that Visibility can be positive or negative, so it is important to be intentional about how you show up.
C stands for Credibility. Credibility will develop when you know someone’s first and last name, what they do, and you trust that they can and will do what they agree to do at the agreed-upon price. Developing Credibility begins when you share your experience and credentials with another person. When you enter a new career, it can take time for people to see you as experienced in a new field. It is like your family thinking that even though you haven’t lived at home for 30 or 40 years, you are still the same person you were in your teens. I remember the mother of a friend looking at him with astonishment when he ordered broccoli at a restaurant and announced, “But you don’t like broccoli!” She was working with old information.
To be successful in business, your customers must believe you are qualified to provide the products or services you are offering. If your business requires a particular type of bond or insurance, communicating that you have met those requirements will boost your Credibility. People like to do business with people they know, like, and trust. You build trust when you do what you say you are going to do. Because we are experiencing so much rainy weather, people who work outdoors in jobs like landscaping, dirt work, and painting find it more important than ever to communicate schedule changes with customers. It is easy to think, “They know I can’t come today because it’s raining.” While that may seem obvious to you, a phone call updating customers on schedule changes due to rain will help maintain your Credibility and increase their trust that you are a person who what you say you will do.
In your personal life, trust is just as important. How you keep your commitments in new relationships and old ones determines how others view you. Keeping a promise can be as involved as showing up for an event where you volunteered your help or as simple as meeting for lunch or dinner at the time promised. As a person who used to be chronically late, I realized that when I didn’t show up on time, I was unintentionally sending a message to the person I was meeting that I thought my time was more valuable than theirs. The truth was, I just wasn’t very good with time, and trying to squeeze the most into every minute often resulted in me being late. When I made a shift to scheduling and plan to arrive at meetings 15 minutes early, I find that I am nearly always early (sometimes not by much), which shows people that I value them and their time. It’s incredible how much more pleasant people are when you haven’t kept them waiting.
P stands for Profitability. A relationship in Profitability is reciprocal. You send them referrals, and they send referrals to you. To reach the Profitability level, both parties must benefit from the relationship. Profitability is measured not just by money but by the benefit to each party. Relationships can be at Profitability even if they are not business relationships. They can refer to a new client, offer a lead on a job, or introduce someone you want to date. When someone introduces you, whether for work or socially, they give a little of their reputation on your behalf. Honoring their generosity by doing a good job is the least we can do to thank them. Sometimes things go south through no fault of our own. When this happens, take the time to let your referral source know what happened so that they understand why it didn’t work out.
Examine your key relationships and determine whether they are in Visibility, Credibility, or Profitability. Suppose you have a key relationship that is not in Profitability; set up a conversation to help you to understand why. I once had a business relationship with someone whom I thought would (should) send me business but did not. On the advice of a business expert, I began sending him referrals. We were in Visibility, and I thought in Credibility, and it was easy for me to refer to him. After the third referral I gave him, he came to me after a meeting and said, “We need to have a one-to-one. I haven’t referred to you because don’t understand what you do and how that can help my customers.” That helped me realize that my Credibility is my responsibility.
If you are fortunate to have good relationships, one of the best ways to keep those relationships strong is to keep your promises and be excellent to one another.
If you would like an invitation to meet other business professionals who understand the importance of referrals, please send and email to the address below with BNI in the subject line.
Cami Miller is a business coach and works with executives, entrepreneurs, and family businesses to develop strategies for success. Contact her at [email protected]