FAQ / General Questions
- What is Biznik?
- Who can join Biznik?
- Why should I join Biznik?
- Biznik's 95/5 Principle
- How are people using Biznik?
- What if my clients aren’t here?
- I signed up for Basic Membership, now what?
- Me? Host an Event?!
- What determines how people appear in the Members pages (I can tell it's not alphabetical!)
- How do I use the Member Search tool effectively?
- How do I change my city view of the site?
- How do I invite others to join Biznik?
- How do I add bump my SEO with a Biznik badge on my blog or web site?
- What are the badges on members' profiles?
- Unique characteristics of the Biznik Network: what is the benefit of following another user?
- Can I format the comments I make in the forums and discussions?
- I didn’t mean to say that! How can I change it? (Editing your comments.)
- I've deleted my account, why haven't my posts been deleted?
- How do I stop following a conversation, and stop getting notifications of new posts?
- What preferences can I control?
- Controlling who messages you
- Controlling who's activity is included in your Network Updates mailing
- Controlling the email you get from Biznik
- Controlling the ability to view a profile anonymously
- Controlling if your profile is visible or hidden
- Controlling what appears on Google
What is Biznik?
Biznik is an online community designed for networking between independent business people. When you're flying solo, collaboration with peers beats competing with them. Biznik was founded 2005 as a community where like-minded business people can share resources, opportunities and referrals. If you're feeling isolated or invisible, join others who are going it alone too -- and go it alone, together.
Three ways to join:
Basic Membership includes a basic profile optimized for search engines, and an invitation for light participation, such as RSVPing and commenting. Join Biznik as a Basic Member for $79/year.
Pro Membership includes a professional profile and the power for full participation. To message others, publish articles, host events and join groups, go Pro for $14/month.
ProVIP Membership includes an enhanced professional profile and featured placement throughout the site. Participation is optimized for search engines, and we provide you with unlimited editorial support and customized assistance. ProVIP is only $29/month.
Get two months free when you upgrade your Pro or ProVIP accounts for a year.
Users may RSVP for an event with Biznik Lite. Biznik Lite is a placeholder for a membership. It is free, but its does not include a profile or the SEO, and Lite users are unable to comment or message others.
Who can join Biznik?
Biznik is open to anyone over 18 with an interest in engaging with others around the topic of independent business. Freelancers, indie contractors, CEOs, business students, and day-jobbers with dreams of running their own show one day, are welcome. Biznik does not permit those representing network marketing or multi-level marketing companies. See Biznik's No-MLM Policy.
Why should I join Biznik?
Do it for selfish reasons. If you're feeling the isolation of working alone; if you've launched your business and are eager get noticed; if you're looking to glean new ideas and concepts from peers who've been there; if you like socializing and networking with like-minded indie business people; if you're studying business or thinking of leaving a day job and striking out on your own; if you have business expertise and acumen to share with others; Biznik is an excellent place to network with others just like you.
Do it because you want an alternative to the same-old. Biznik's not another "Facebook for business" or a LinkedIn clone. Biznik is not a tool for broadcasting to potential customers, it's a peer networking tool for finding potential customers through peers. We follow a 95/5 Principle in nearly everything we do. That's not just different, that's radical.
Biznik's 95/5 Principle?
Biznik is more than a web site or networking tool, Biznik is a community, a movement -- it's a new way of engaging with your peers. Part of the Biznik ethos is guided by the 95/5 Principle. 95% of contributions on Biznik must be helpful and relevant to growing an independent business. Self-promotion and self-interested contributions must be limited to 5%.
If the purpose was to broadcast your message to potential customers then Biznik would be another marketing platform -- but Biznik isn't that. It's a peer-to-peer business networking platform. Marketing is about fishing where the fish are. Business networking is about finding like-minded fishermen and sharing your tools. Get the difference?
How are people using Biznik?
The primary reason people use Biznik is to form new relationships with other independent business people. What you do with those relationships is dependent on you and your type of business. Some members find clients inside Biznik, others find collaborators and partners. A fair number learn from the myriad of coaches and business experts who publish articles and host workshops.
What if my clients aren’t here?
The short answer is that you shouldn't expect your clients to be here. With the exception of business coaches and consultants, Biznik is a network platform, not a marketing platform. Inside Biznik, you'll find a community of peers who can send you new clients -- yes -- but they can also introduce you to new resources, opportunities and ideas. Come here with that expectation, and the rewards are limitless!
I signed up for Basic Membership, now what?
The first thing to do is fill out your profile. Click on the Your Profile tab in the green menu bar at the top of every page, and start working your way through the fields.
Next, find others to network with. Select your city from the list of city names, located at the top of every page. This geolocates your participation, so you can discover others near you.
Under the 'Members' tab in the green menu bar at the top of every page you can browse members by category, welcome other new members, or view the most active members in your area.
If there are an upcoming events near you, they will be listed under the 'Events' tab. If not, consider hosting one yourself!
Me? Host an Event?!
Events are EASY to host – and do NOT require renting a venue or out-of-pocket expenses.
Communities vary of course, but have a neighborhood pub or cocktail lounge where small groups can gather informally.
Seattle has a number of hot spots that pick up after 9pm. They're quiet around 5pm mid-week and the bar managers are thrilled to have a couple dozen people in there chatting. Often no prior arrangement is necessary, though if you're expecting more than a dozen people, letting the bar know you're coming is a nice gesture.
Everyone’s responsible for their own bar tab and appetizers. Event hosts are expected to provide nametags and a sign-in sheet, and record attendance on the web site the next day. And that's it!
To get an idea of what kinds of events people like to throw, click on “Seattle” (where Biznik began) and take a look at the LONG list of upcoming events within 50 miles of Seattle. There are Happy Hour gatherings, educational workshops, discussions – there is really something for every small business person in there. it’s quite diverse.
What determines how people appear in the Members pages (I can tell it's not alphabetical!)
Throughout the site, members are displayed by their membership level (gold-star ProVIPs are sorted at the top), followed by their activity score. Activity is measured by participation. Hosting events and publishing articles earns the most activity points. Commenting in a conversation, sending a compliment, and inviting others to join Biznik also earn activity points. Activity points are time sensitive, so if you want to stay at the top, you must participate consistently and regularly.
TIP: Whether you're new to Biznik or an old veteran, with Biznik's participation algorithm you can tell at a glance who the most active people are. If someone’s near the top of the list they’re likely to be interested in this community, and would likely be receptive to a message from you – provided it’s not spam, of course. Biznik is a platform for relationship building, so it’s important to remember that on Biznik, you have to earn the right to market to someone. That means you have to establish a relationship BEFORE you try to sell yourself.
How do I use the Member Search tool effectively?
Discovering others to network with can be done via the 'Members' tab in the green menu bar at the top of every page. These pages are sorted geographically. Use the links to other cities in the list under the green menu bar to change the area you are viewing. Use the drop-down menu under the search bar to change the mile radius of the display.
To search for members in other cities, choose the city from the list at the top of the page:
That will switch you to that city’s member list, and then your searches will be constrained to that location.
How do I change my city view of the site?
The default view of the community the first time you visit Biznik, is Seattle, since that’s where Biznik was born. Your primary city, along with other popular communities are represented in a list of cities directly under the green menu bar on every page. If a community you'd like to visit is not available as an option, click 'More »' and use the search box to find your location. Biznik uses Google's location database.
In the example above, EB's address is in Portland, but above her head it shows she is currently viewing the Seattle Community. All she needs to do is click “Portland” (circled), and that will change her view of the site to the Portland community.
Once a community is selected, you will remain in the view of that community, regardless of where you click in the site. If you remain on the same computer and your browser is set to accept cookies, you will find the same community view each time you return.
How do I invite others to join Biznik?
Biznik is a community. The larger and more diverse the community, the more valuable it becomes for everyone here. So if you like Biznik, we encourage you to invite others to come and participate as well!
An 'Invite' link can be found with the blue links in the upper right corner of every page. In some cases when you're logged in, an 'Invite' tab also appears in the green menu bar.
Each time a member invites another user using the 'Invite' link, they receive credit for the invitation. If the invitee accepts your invitation, they appear as one of your 'Connections' under your 'Network' tab. Members with 10 connections get a "Connectors" badge that appears under their photo on their profile.
NOTE: Lite users' networks are hidden from view, but the information is not lost. If you upgrade to one of the three membership levels, your network tab with your follows, followers, and connections, will be visible once again.
Once on the Invite page, there are three ways to send an invitation and still get credit.
1. You can copy the customized link and send it to your recipient through your own email or message. When an invitee follows your customized link and joins Biznik you get credit.
2. You can enter one or multiple email addresses into the invite form on the Invite page. The text that accompanies the invitations can be sent as-is, or customized. Your choice.
3. If you skip entering email addresses when you use the utility to connect the address book of your Gmail, Yahoo or MSN/Hotmail account. It's easy to select which people you wish to invite. Invitations only go to those you select. And we DO NOT store your contacts names. This option saves you time and is completely safe.
How do I add bump my SEO with a Biznik badge on my blog or web site?
Another way to boost the SEO for your Biznik profile and help spread the word about Biznik and grow this community for everyone's benefit, is to add a Biznik badge or icon to your blog or web site. We've written the code for you, you simply need to paste it into your web site.
Here's how easy it is:
1. Log in to your Biznik account.
2. Look for the "Promotional Tools" heading under your photo in the left column of your profile:
3. Select the badge you like the most from the three options.
4. Paste the code we provide using the instructions below and Voila!
For your website: Just paste the code into the part of the site where you want the badge to appear. Generally this would be in a sidebar or footer of your site. Save your file, and upload it to your web server.
For your WordPress blog, follow these instructions.
For your TypePad blog, follow these instructions.
For your Tumblr blog, follow these instructions.
What are the badges on members' profiles?
On Biznik, members earn badges recognizing their active participation in the following ways:
Biznik Ambassadors are energetic cultivators of the Biznik community in areas where Biznik has not yet established a presence. They have demonstrated a level of enthusiasm and commitment to the Biznik community that sets them apart.
To earn a Connector badge, 10 people you have invited to Biznik must have followed your invitation link and signed up.
To earn Expert status, a minimum of 4 of the business-related articles you author must be selected by Biznik for inclusion in our general Articles section of the site while maintaining a rating by the Biznik community of 8 or above. Write an article.
Event hosts contribute to the community by hosting Biznik Events such as workshops and business networking socials. A "Biznik Event" is one that has been selected for publication to the main calendar. The badge displays the number of Biznik Events that were attended by 3 or more people. Host an event.
Instructors teach Biznik Business Essentials workshops. Instructor badges are awarded by invitation only.
The Welcome Posse are Biznik members who know the ropes and who can help you get a leg up on making the most out of your Biznik experience. They are volunteers and choose to welcome new members because they value this community. If you have questions about how Biznik works, this is a good person to ask!
NOTE for Lite users: A Lite webcard does not have space for badges, therefore, if a member downgrades to Lite, any badges they earned will disappear from view. But have no fear! The badges are not lost. If you upgrade back one of the three membership levels, your badges, along with your compliments, network and map, will be visible once again.
The Biznik Network: what is the benefit of following another user?
Biznik is a networking community, by following someone on Biznik, you're doing the electronic version of picking up their brochure or taking their business card. The followers of Pro & ProVIP members who create content on Biznik are notified when a member they are following publishes a new article, creates a new event, or starts a new conversation. Pro members are also permitted to send a bulk message to their followers.
If you are no longer interested in receiving notifications or direct messages from someone you follow, simply STOP following them. Users are NOT notified when others stop following them.
Can I format the comments I make in the forums and discussions?
We permit a limited amount of formatting in the forums and discussions. Here are a few bits of shorthand you can use to add formatting to your text:
For those of you who know html, some tags work and some do not. For example the "strong" and "b" tags can be used instead of a double-asterisk. Most html formatting will be stripped out when you hit enter.
When writing Articles, it is best to use the Formatting Toolbar that Biznik provides as formatting issues frequently occur when cutting and pasting from Microsoft Word. (Or try using the “paste from Word” icon when submitting a new Article.) For best results, keep it simple.
I didn’t mean to say that! How can I change it? (Editing your comments.)
Watch what you say. Like nearly every online forum, once you post something, it's out there and permanent. Posts may be edited for 15 minutes after they've been made, or until a subsequent post follows it, whichever comes first. You will know a post can be edited, because an EDIT link will be visible inside the box with the comment. If there is no EDIT link, then the comment is not eligible for editing.
In the very rare case where a post you made has become obsolete and is causing you harm, we can investigate whether or not it can be removed on our end. If doing so causes a gap in the flow of a conversation, we may offer to edit but not completely remove it.
NOTE: Biznik has no control over Google's indexing. Google has been known to index comments made in online forums and rank them highly in search results. Even if we were to remove or edit a comment on our site, it could take months before Google's indices are updated and the comment disappears from search results.
I've deleted my account, why haven't my posts been deleted?
When you created an account on Biznik, if you participated in an online discussions, you chose to engage in a public conversation with other people. If we were to remove comments made by users who've closed their accounts, it would leave large gaping holes in the conversations they contributed to. For this reason, as a general policy, we do not delete posts and comments, even posts and comments made by users who are no longer part of this community. We hope you understand our predicament.
How do I stop following a conversation, and stop getting notifications of new posts?
Each time you post a comment in an article or event discussion, or one of the Biz Talk conversations, you trigger an automated "follow" that notifies you be email each time a subsequent post is made by another users.
To prevent the "follow" to occur in the first place, simply uncheck the box inside the comment window that reads: "Check to receive an email when someone posts a reply."
To stop following a discussion, either uncheck the box in another post, or scroll up to the top left corner of the discussion's page, a click the "Stop following topic" link under the discussion author's photo.
What preferences can I control?
- You can control who messages you.
- You can control who's activity is included in your Network Updates mailing.
- You can control the general communication from Biznik.
- You can control the ability to view a profile anonymously.
- You can control if your profile is visible or hidden.
- You can control what appears on Google.
Here's how you control each...
Controlling who messages you.
There are two ways to control messages from other users. The first is to block a particular user or users from contacting you. The second is to unpublish your profile.
To block a specific user, login to your account, go to their profile and scroll to the bottom left corner of their main page for the "block" and "flag" controls. (More information is provided below in "Reporting abuse...")
To reverse the block, simply return to the same location on the user's profile. You will note the link now reads, "unblock".
To block all users from contacting you, you can unpublish your profile or webcard (see "Hiding profile"). You can republish your profile or webcard at any time.
Controlling who's activity is included in your Network Updates mailing.
The Network Updates mailing notifies you when those you follow publish new content in the form of hosting events, writing articles, forming groups or starting conversations.
There are two ways to stop receiving the Network Updates mailing completely. 1) Stop following anyone with a Pro membership who publishes content. Or 2) unsubscribe from general communication from Biznik, which includes Network Update notifications. (See below)
Controlling the email you get from Biznik.Email preferences are under "Privacy Settings" on the 'Preferences' page inside the 'Account' tab on your profile. You can unsubscribe to general communication from Biznik. Updates take effect immediately. You cannot unsubscribe from messages directly related to your account or notifications of messages received from other members.
Controlling the ability to view a profile anonymously.
A benefit of a Biznik Pro membership is the ability to see who has visited your profile. That means that on the flip side of things, every profile you visit, regardless of your membership level, is recorded and displayed to Pro Members. You can browse profiles anonymously while logged in, by setting your "Record profile views" control to No.
Why would you want to do this? If you want to block or flag a member, you must go to their profile to find these controls. If you want that action to be truly anonymous you must turn off recording of your profile views first.
Controlling if your profile is visible or hidden.
Hiding or unpublishing your profile is a good choice if you want to take a break from Biznik but leave the option to return later. Some choose to hide their profile until they've finished filling in the fields and are ready to show it to the world. The ability to unpublish your profile or webcard can be found by clicking the 'Your Profile' tab in the green menu bar at the top of each page, going to the 'Account' tab, and following the link to your 'Preferences'.
IMPORTANT: Unpublishing a profile does NOT suspend membership benefits or stop recurring billing. If you are enrolled in a monthly or annual membership plan, you will continue to be billed on each renewal billing date even if your profile is hidden from view.
Unpublishing your profile does not affect your ability to participate in the community by RSVPing, hosting events, publishing articles or commenting in a forum. However, be aware that events and articles published by members with unpublished profiles, will not be considered for circulation in the main areas of the site. And unpublished accounts cannot receive messages from others.
To discontinue receiving messages from Biznik, set your preferences setting to "unsubscribe" from general communication from Biznik. These settings can be reset to "published" an "subscribed" by setting the preference to YES.
Controlling what appears on Google.
It's entirely up to you, how much or how little you share on your Biznik profile and in the forums. Biznik is a PUBLIC community, that means everything that happens on Biznik is broadcast world-wide and scraped by Google. Google's bot visit Biznik multiple times a second. With our extraordinary search engine optimization, you can count on a snarky comment you make in Biz Talk ranking high on Google in searches for your name.
So to control what appears on Google, you simply need to control what you say. Once it's out there -- once Google indexes it -- there's nothing we can do.
Does Biznik have a No Spam Policy?
Yes! In broad terms we define spam as large quantities of identical and/or generic messaging void of personalization; or comments made out of context and/or filled with self-promotional jargon or links.
We take deliberate and in-deliberate spam attacks seriously and devote a tremendous amount of our engineering time and talent to build systems that detect suspicious activity and automatically remove users who appear to have made a fraudulent attempt to gain membership. Because of our efforts, only a very small percentage of people who use Biznik has ever experienced deliberate spam. In extreme cases where supposed in-deliberate spam continues despite our warnings, we may terminate the offender’s account.
The topic of in-deliberate spam can be touchy. But if we don't stay on top of it, a community where the noise overpowers the signals will soon be abandoned. In the spirit of community, we wish to be transparent about the systems we've created to combat excessive messaging and spam.
Using information from your flags and what we know about how the average person uses Biznik, we’ve identified certain common patterns of unacceptable behavior. For example, we’ve learned that if someone sends the same message to 50 people in the span of an hour, it’s usually spam.
We can’t share all of the details of how these systems work or the spammers might try to get around them. However, we've designed a system to automatically detect suspicious behavior, block it and warn the person who’s engaging in it to slow down.
These automated systems don’t just prevent spam and other annoyances. They also protect this community from being a place where everyone's trying to sell to one another, and those engaging in authentic business relationships can't be heard through the noise.
If you do encounter one of our spam prevention systems, remember that its sole intent is to protect you and maintain Biznik's trusted environment.
Just as a community relies on its citizens to report crime, we rely on you to let us know when you encounter spam or inappropriate behavior. We're counting on YOU to help preserve the integrity of this community and keep this a place we all want to do business in.
If you feel an inappropriate post has been made in a forum, you can flag the post inline, by clicking the grey "flag" icon. In some cases, we will remove the links and leave the comment. In other cases, we may delete the comment all together.
If you are not interested in receiving generic messages from someone you follow, stop following them. (Users are not notified when another user stops following them.)
If you want to be a friend, do the person a favor by educating them on the fact that their messaging is too frequent and not relevant. We're all in this together, perhaps they don't know that what they are doing is annoying, and you can help them change their behavior.
Tips for disengaging with someone engaging on the borderline of spam
There are steps you can take to disengage from a member if their behavior is bothering you. Here are some suggestions.
1. Remove the member from your Network. By following another user, you have given them permission to message you at their will. Members are not notified when another member stops following them.
2. Remove yourself from any groups the member "owns" (is an Admin of). By joining a member’s Group, you are also giving them permission to contact you. If you don't like the types of messages they send to their group members, leave the group.
3. Forget suggestions 1 & 2, and simply Block the member. This will prohibit that member from contacting you in any way regardless if they remain in your Network or if you remain in their Group. The member will not be notified of the block.
How do I report abuse or inappropriate behavior by another user?
As with any community, the benefits of bringing people together are occasionally accompanied by inappropriate or unacceptable conduct by a small number of people. This behavior ranges from thoughtless to criminal and can degrade the experience for others or undermine the community itself.
On Biznik, the most common unacceptable behavior involves some abuse of our communication tools. This can be as innocent as annoying others with too many messages or as serious as deliberately trying to spam others for commercial gain.
With hundreds of thousands of pieces of content being shared on Biznik every month, preventing misconduct takes concerted effort. As we said above, just as a community relies on its citizens to report crime, we rely on you to let us know when you encounter spam or inappropriate behavior, which can be anything from a impersonal message sent by someone you don’t know, to a invitation to join a multi-level marketing business.
Each member has the ability to FLAG or BLOCK another member. Blocking another member prohibits them from initiating contact with you through Biznik. Flagging another member, alerts the Biznik Admin of potentially problematic behavior.
Recipients are not notified of the flag or block and Biznik never reveals to anyone who flagged or blocked whom.
How to flag or block someone
Go to directly to their member profile or webcard. On a member profile, the flag and block links are located in the bottom left corner of their main page, in the column that holds their photo. On a Lite user's webcard, the flag link can be found on the second tab called 'About', under their photo.
When you click on the “Flag this member” link, a dialog box appears, asking you for a reason for the flag. Choices are: Not using real name, Represents an MLM, Spamming members, Inappropriate photo, Inappropriate content, or Inappropriate behavior. Further explanation in the comments field is optional.
The most common infractions of Biznik’s Terms of Service are abuse of our No Spam Policy (described above) or violation of our No MLM Policy.
When you click the 'Block this member' link, a confirmation window appears. No reason or comment is necessary.
Once blocked, the user will be unable to message you or initiate contact in any way, including sending you a compliment, inviting you to a group, or following you.
The person being flagged or blocked is not notified of the report being made.
The Biznik Admin takes flags and blocks very seriously and reviews each and every flag/blog individually. Again, we're counting on YOU to help preserve the integrity of this community and keep this a place we all want to do business in.
Can I reverse someone I've previously blocked?
Yes! the “Block this member” link turns into an, “Unblock this member” link after it has been clicked. To reverse the block, simply return to the same location on the user's profile.
IMPORTANT: A benefit of a Biznik Pro membership is the ability to see who has visited your profile. That means that on the flip side of things, every profile you visit, regardless of your membership level, is recorded and displayed to Pro Members. You can browse profiles anonymously while logged in, by setting your "Record profile views" control to No.
If you want to block or flag a member, you must go to their profile to find these controls. If you want that action to be truly anonymous you must turn off recording of your profile views first. See Control ability to view a profile anonymously.
Help! I can't remember my password!
Use the "Forgot password" link in any one of the log in screens, and a message that directs you to a page where you can create a new password will be emailed to the email address used to create the account.
If you no longer have access to the email address used to create the account, contact us at email@example.com and we'll help. You can also call 206.619.0160. We respond to emails all hours day and night. If you call, we're generally available M-F between 9 & 5, Pacific time.
How do I close my account?
While we would certainly hate to see you leave the Biznik community, we have made it simple for you to close your account. Simply click 'Your profile' in the green menu bar at the top of every page, and visit your 'Account' tab. The third option inside your Account is your Preferences. The link for permanently closing your account is at the bottom. Remember, you're welcome back any time!
Did you know you could simply hide your profile or stop paying? Try 1) unpublishing your profile, or 2) downgrading to a Biznik Lite account. Doing so will permit you to KEEP your account, your network, and a history of your activity.
Unpublish your profile:
Downgrade to Biznik Lite:
Can I re-open an account that I’ve closed?
No problem! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the name on the account, and the email you believe was used to create the account. If you no longer have access to that email, we can assist in updating that for you too.
We are here for you!
Biznik Customers Service is part of your membership. Drop us a line and let us know how we can help you get the most from your participation here: email@example.com