Everyone knows the saying "Show me your friends and I'll tell you where you're going".
This saying also holds especially true in the life of every entrepreneur. Some leaders however, build their businesses, then without realising it, do not place nearly a strong enough emphasis on who resides within their sphere of influence. I suppose now's as good a time as any to take a look at that error.
Ideally, your inner circle shouldn't all be people like you (though it's often done accidentally). You should have people around you from various roads in life who have a wide range of experiences and contacts that you can draw upon. The reasoning is "how can I help you/you help me if I face a significant hurdle and we're all in the same boat?"
Many business owners mistakenly believe that their professional colleagues should all be like themselves. I deliberately draw new relationships from sectors and niches unrelated to my own. Doing so keeps my businesses on the cutting edge and using multi-disciples that others in my sector do not even know about.
So just think, in your own network; "How many of my contacts are like me? How many do what I do? How many are in different circles? How many links do I have to financing? How many links do I have to widen my distribution channels? Who are the best advocates in my network to introduce me to others?
Remember; having associates with different areas of expertise and specialisms adds diversity to your circle and will help you think outside the box much more frequently.
Is Your Inner Circle Stifling Your Business Growth?
Unfortunately, there is weighty truth that entrepreneurs should face, and the sooner the better. As you increase your success and improve your circle you'll be leaving some of your prior comrades, associates and friends behind you. This will happen for various reasons, and in reality, the longer the shift is resisted the harder it will be for you to make your Quantum Leap.
You should know, that the strength of your contacts is what they are connected to, and their value to you is what they are willing to connect you to. The same is true for you. Your contacts will be wondering how you can help them. They'll be impressed by what you're connected to. If you approach openly the attitude of achieving greatness through helping one another, then almost everything is possible.
If you choose to stick with old business associates who are in the same place now as they were a decade ago, you'll find yourself stuck in limbo. Kind of like walking through molasses. Yes you'll keep moving but there will be a force pulling you back.
I ask new business associates important questions that help me to understand what they need from me, and they (gladly) reciprocate. I work to give them what they need, knowing that the law of reciprocity, and sheer surprise that I'll do what I said I would kicks in.
I also ask them about what they do to keep themselves on the edge, where they're going, why they do what they do. I gauge in that first conversation if I can add value to them, and I want to know if they are the kind of person who will compliment people I already have in my circle. I want to know if they are moving forward, are they optimistic or a pessimist. What's their outlook?
This is all important, to ensure that I don't add anyone to my network who is actually stagnating or may not be in alignment with my core beliefs and values.
Look At Who Is In Your Circle:
Who do you see in your circle of influence? Take a moment to stop and really analyse who's around you. On paper if need be. Are they always whining and complaining? Do they blaming others for their missteps? Are they cheaters, liars, underachievers? Or are they trustworthy friends, colleagues, winners, honourable, sharp, savvy, and law-abiding citizens?
By continuing to keep company with people who have negative qualities you'll find yourself gradually being contaminated by their mentality. This could kill you softly both intellectually and financially.
This is where you have to make a decision - do you hang on to people in your life who have stagnated and not matured, or do you move on to find and build more fulfilling and challenging associations?
Influencing Your Peers and Colleagues
According to Klout, I'm fairly influential with a current score of 64. There's many ways to improve your credibility and influence using 'real' and social proofs.
But Klout is not the only way to measure your 'value'. Having highly trusted peers or colleagues in your sphere is a priceless commodity. You should be seeking these relationships out and cultivating them. But on the flip side, you need to be the person that people want to go to; that is paramount to your ongoing success.
Become a confidant who is always aware of your surroundings never accidentally laying their secrets bare. Don't engage in gossip. It's a small world and it will get around. BE that trusted, knowledgable contact that people speak fondly of.
As entrepreneurs we have to move fast to keep our business growing. It's important to choose carefully who we spend time with in our travels. Most of the time we hurriedly run around collecting business cards we never followup on as if we were rolling stones gathering moss. Jason Harvey in "Achieve Anything In Just One Year" bids us to remember that our friendships have consequences to our life's trajectory.
Making the Grade and Leveraging Strategic Alliances
It's a good idea to fine tune your skills in this area, as those who make the biggest leaps are introduced to their next big break - it is rarely stumbled upon in a news paper ad.
There are resources out there that assist entrepreneurs and executives to build and expand their circle. One such event about increasing and leveraging vital strategic relationships is taking place throughout 2013 via global live streams and webinars. It's called Leveraging Strategic Alliances (www.LSAsummit.com) and it includes advice to help you; assess & nurture an inner circle of influential individuals, help you to see what specifically you can do to grow your influence and strategic relationships and assess who you want to be attached with, and the best ways to be attractive to those people.
Entrepreneurs, thought leaders and experts who have leveraged and solidified Strategic Alliances have gotten results accomplished magnificent feats, so any leader who is serious about their future would certainly benefit from tapping into professional training on this topic and discover best practices. [Detailed information about the event is here: http://www.LSAsummit.com].
No matter what you do, just keep your head focused on your game and make sure you're always on the edge, never to be cut for being the stagnant contact.
Do you have any tips about growing your circle? Did this article make sense to you? Did you benefit from the article? Or did it hit a nerve? tell me what you think in the comment box below or Tweet me and I'll reply @MarshaWright.