The Prime Minister, David Cameron, was cheered by troops in Afghanistan yesterday as he thanked them for the work they are doing. Of course, in reality, his policy is the same as the previous Labour Government’s. We are hanging on the coat tails of the Americans. But the British soldiers do not care; what they greeted so positively was the simple presence of the new Prime Minister, just showing his support. Merely his being there is enough for much of the military.
Politicians – whatever you say about them – are not that daft. They understand that half the battle in getting support and votes is visibility. Your local MP will be all around your constituency this weekend, glad-handing people, kissing babies, opening fêtes or attending meetings. They will get their picture taken dozens of times and will feature in your local paper on several pages next week. The result – they are visible and everyone thinks they are “doing a lot”. More votes in the bag for next time.
It’s the same for the Prime Minister. Just being seen by the troops in Afghanistan is enough. It even worked for Gordon Brown.
Now, new research on telecommuting confirms the importance of real world visibility. This study found that people who worked from home for a company were perceived as dependable and reliable if they turned up at the real office from time to time. Even if they did nothing when they got there – if they were just “visible” – they were perceived more positively than other home workers who just got on with their job.
What the study confirms is the fact that we need real, face-to-face time with people to form a positive view of them. The research has important implications for people running a web-based business.
Having real world visibility, compared with a mere virtual presence, is likely to make people view your company more positively. Getting “out there” and being amongst real people in the real world – not doing everything virtually – appears to get people to ascribe more positive factors to you. It suggests, for instance, that for sole traders and small businesses, being at meetings, going to networking groups and simply being visible, face-to-face, is enough to get customers and potential customers to think more positively about your online business. If you are a bigger online entity, it’s about being “present” in the real world. It is no coincidence that the likes of Google go to exhibitions and conferences just to mix with the hoi paolloi. Simply being seen, makes us think more positively about them.
So, in your business what is your strategy for being visible in the “real world”? If your business is mostly conducted online, what tactics do you employ for real world visibility? This new study suggests that having a real world presence for you and your staff is fundamental to people thinking good things about you. Whatever you might think of David Cameron, he is clearly doing the right thing to get those soldiers to like him. What are you doing about the real world visibility of your online business?
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+