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Cradle to Grave: Active Networking and the BBB
Posted Oct 28, 2010 Print Version     Page 1of 1

Alan NaumannSeveral years ago, I received a very unsettling message on my answering machine that caused my heart to skip a beat. No, it was not from the IRS—it was from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The message was simple and to the point: “If you are the owner of Memory Vision, please call us immediately.” My first instinct was to try to figure out who had issued a complaint against us. As far as I knew, all of our customers were happy with our work.

Finally, I got up the courage and returned the call to the BBB. I was extremely relieved to find out that the bureau had contacted me not because of a complaint, but rather to invite me to become a member. I immediately said yes to the invitation. Looking back, it was one of the best decisions I could have made.

As a small business owner, I’ve found that the Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers many benefits, from arbitration over complaints to continuing education. But perhaps the biggest benefit of being a BBB member is that it gives people a good reason to trust us. Whenever people inquire about my company, Memory Vision, from the BBB, they’re sent a report that tells them I am a member in good standing with an A+ rating. Each time an inquiry is made, I receive an email indicating that someone has checked up on us. Because trust is so important for a business to succeed, getting the seal of approval from the BBB is as good as it gets.

I was surprised, though, to discover that most of my videographer friends are not BBB members. Four years ago I was contacted by the BBB to see if I was available to produce a video for its annual Integrity Award Ceremony. I was told I was contacted because I was a member of the BBB, and the bureau wanted to demonstrate loyalty to its members before looking elsewhere. Of course, I immediately said yes!

This year marks my fourth year in producing the Integrity Award video for the BBB. For the last 2 years, I’ve been assisted by Melonie Jeska of Glimpses of Life. This year was easier than in previous years because we only had 11 businesses to highlight on video over a 2-day period as opposed to the 14 we did last year in the same amount of time over a larger geographic area. We interviewed the owners and staff members of the companies that were finalists for the Integrity Award, and we shot video of each to show what the business was all about. Because of this exposure to some of the leading businesses in our area, many have contacted me to do additional video work. As one person put it, “If you are good enough for the BBB, you are good enough for me.”

In today’s challenging economic climate, almost everyone will tell you that the key to survival is active networking. Many of my videographer friends spend many hours going to meet-up groups trying to find potential business contacts. Unfortunately, many of those attending are also struggling in their business and are not necessarily the best candidates for our services. In contrast, because of my connections with the BBB, I’ve been able to network with some of the largest and most successful businesses in our area. In addition to networking with them, I’ve also been identified with them on the BBB’s website and in their advertising. I recently received the following email from the BBB: “We are in the process of creating the Integrity Award Supplement that will go in the Business Journal to promote the event. As part of your sponsorship, you are granted an advertisement in this supplement. We would like to place your ad on the back page (great placement/visibility!) along with information on the BBB’s mission and key services. Could you please send me a 3" x 3" 4-color advertisement by …? Since we are still in the designing process, there is a possibility that this ad could increase in size.” Then, after finishing our last interview for the Integrity Awards, the owner of the company we were profiling said he was shocked that we were able to do all of our shooting in less than the scheduled time. He shared his experience of working with other production companies and how it would often take a large crew a whole day of shooting just to produce a 2- to 3-minute video. I explained to him that, as event videographers, we have a unique skill set that allows us to do high-quality work in a short amount of time. To shoot an event, I told him, you don’t get a second chance. Because we need to get shots quickly and do it right in our event work, that skill transfers into all areas of our work. He was impressed!

I know that many businesses would be impressed with our services—if only they knew about us. I encourage my fellow videographers to consider joining their local BBB. Not only will it give potential customers confidence to put their trust in them, but it will also expose them to businesses who need our services and who will be impressed by the unique skill set we bring to the table. The BBB could well be the best active “networking” opportunity any of us could have. Not only will we receive the many benefits of membership, but other member businesses will benefit as well by being exposed to us and the unique set of skills we possess as event videographers.

Alan Naumann (alan at memoryvision.tv) is co-author, with Melonie Jeska, of The Complete Guide to Video Biographies, a newly released, comprehensive set of training materials for professional video producers. A featured speaker at WEVA Expo 2004–2010 and a two-time EventDV 25 honoree, he is based in Minneapolis.

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