Networking with a Purpose

This is the most incredible VCP story I’ve ever heard!  It shows how relationship networking is changing lives across the globe.

(For those of you who aren’t familiar with the principle, VCP stands for Visibility, Credibility and Profitability; successful networking is achieved by first being visible in your business community, which will lead to credibility, which will lead to profitability.)

I was recently contacted by one of BNI’s Executive Directors, Susan Goodsell, to tell me about her daughter’s remarkable journey to Zanzibar, Africa. Kelsey, who is 23 years old, is there with GIVE (Growth International Volunteer Excursions) which recruits college students to work on sustainable development projects around the world. Kelsey has been volunteering with the organization for three years, and this year she has been assigned as Education Coordinator and will help her team on projects like school construction and tutoring in English.

GIVE Zanzibar schoolTo give you an idea of what Kelsey and her team are up against, here’s a little background on the culture of Zanzibar. The country is extremely poor and education is positioned against its citizens–even though the national language is Swahili, exams required to continue through school are given in English. If a student does not pass the exam, they can’t continue attending school unless they retake the exam, which costs $500–the yearly income of most families.

One of Kelsey’s primary jobs is to establish trust with the locals in order to encourage them to use GIVE’s tutoring program (this is Kelsey on the right teaching a class). She was asked to integrate with the women in the village, but she found it very challenging as their cultures are so different.

I think the next part of the story would be best told by Susan herself.

“Kelsey was hugely uncomfortable–to the point where she was messaging me on WhatsApp. “They’re older than I am. They only speak Swahili.” (She speaks very basic Swahili.) “And they don’t want anything to do with me.”

I have often said the skills in BNI are not just business skills, but life skills. I went into part Mom mode, part BNI mode.

“VCP,” I told her. “You have no credibility. You need to start with visibility. Tomorrow, simply walk through the village, smile and say “Jambo” to six women. If they have a baby or a child, smile and wave at the child. That’s it. Six women. Then consider you’ve met your goal.”

Day 1, I received a text message. “Mom, no one smiled. Not one person responded to me. And all I got were death ray stares.”

“Okay Kelsey, I get it. That must’ve been awkward. Now do it again tomorrow.”

On the third day, she messaged to say that two women smiled at her. The day after that, two women said hello back. A couple days later, she said, “Mom! SIX women smiled and talked to me first! I didn’t even do anything!”

It only took about a week.

I know VCP is actually a referral process, but it sure did come in handy when my only baby was 10,000 miles away and thinking she was in way over her head and couldn’t so anything to affect change. This is another example of how BNI success stories aren’t always about a business, or even a BNI, success. We bring our members life skills.”

Isn’t that amazing?

I’ve asked Susan to keep us updated as Kelsey continues to work in Africa and use the skills she and her mother have learned through BNI. Make sure to check back in for the future instalments of her incredible journey.

7 thoughts on “Networking with a Purpose

  1. Thank you so much for sharing, Ivan! It is an incredible testimonial to the power of BNI inhancing life skills in addition to business skills.
    We’ll keep you posted on how VCP is working for Kelsey in Zanzibar as more time passes.

  2. I have spent over 20 years doing projects in Tanzania. And, yes, even in Zanzibar. I speak some Swahili. Most of my work happens in a little village 8500 feet up in the Pare mountains near Kilimanjaro. One day while I was walking through the village with a few of the women that had finally gotten over being afraid of me and had come close; another woman came rushing at me, shaking her broom (not the kind one gets in Walmart) – a stick with grasses and strips of banana leaves tied with another piece of banana leaf – She was SCREAMING at me. Immediately the other women surrounded us and separated us… The women with me were stroking my arms, and I could see that the other women were doing the same thing with her. “It’s OK, Nanci, we have come to know you. We love you. She has a ‘mean heart’. (They were circling their fingers in the air near their ears, as we do when someone is crazy.) “So we have to love her more…” WOW! What a lesson in grace.

  3. it’s really good story, actually i’m not expert with BNI but i get the message for VCP.

    Thanks Dr.Misner

  4. Dr. Misner,

    Thanks for sharing that story. It’s amazing how lessons we learn in business can flow into other parts of our lives. It’s great that by increasing her visibility and maintaining a positive attitude during an uncomfortable time, Kelsey yielded a great reward. I look forward to reading more of your blog posts and taking the lessons into my professional and personal life.

    Thanks again for the great info in the post. Hope to connect soon.


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