Business Column: Strategically Speaking with Marsha Wright
We all know the saying “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are and where you’re going…”
This saying also holds especially true in the life of every entrepreneur. Some leaders however build their businesses, then without realizing 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 as the frontier. It also enables us to discover and implement unusual disciplines that others in our sectors are neither aware of or using.
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?
I explored this concept at length in my recent bestselling book –“The Secret Collaborative Economy: More Clients, More Exposure, More Profit, FASTER!” – where the emphasis of looking at your internal “Asset Points” (what makes you irresistible to strategically work with someone – and them with you) can be truly leveraged to take your business where it ultimately wants to go.
In essence your inner circle of influential contacts becomes the nexus of achieving any goal.
In my vast experience dealing with strategic relationships and top-grading my own circles year on year, I have found that people often veer on the extremes of either self-deprecation or far too braggadocios. The level medium comes from knowing your company’s asset points and then making them work for you.
But as well as you knowing them, it’s essential that you communicate them far before you ever speak to a new contact or potential strategic alliance partner. That’s something people always forget to do… Do your contacts know how grey you are? Or is it intel you have forgotten or omitted? If they don’t know it – how can they see your value?
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 often. It also allows you to add value to your circle, and that helps you for support you may need in future.
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. This will happen for various reasons, and in reality, the longer the shift is delayed, the harder it will be for you to make your quantum leap.
It’s worth keeping in mind that the strength of your circle is not just what they know, but also what and who they are connected to. It’s also worth understanding, 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. So it’s worth upgrading your connections in order to create even better and more valuable ones. 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.
Personally, I ask new business associates outright 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 existing circle (because adding value to my current circle is important to our relationship). I want to know if they are moving forward, are they optimistic or a pessimist. What’s their outlook?
This is all important, to make sure that I don’t add anyone to my network who is actually stagnating or may not be in alignment with our core beliefs and values.
Look At Who’s In Your Circle:
Who do you see in your circle of influence? Take a moment to stop and really analyze who’s around you. On paper if need be. What can they do? What are they connected to? What can you do for them? What could they possibly do for you – and how important is that to your long-term plans?
Are they always whining and complaining? Do they blame others for their missteps? Are they cheaters, liars, under-achievers? Do the gossip or tell you other people’s business secrets? Or are they trustworthy friends, colleagues, winners, honorable, 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. the nay-sayers have a lot to say – but they rarely succeed. Do you want that rubbing off on you and your team like a cancer?
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?
Influencers don’t necessarily have to be famous. They are people who have a voice in the company, sector or community that you want to increase your presence in.
Influencing Your Peers and Colleagues
According to Klout, I’m fairly influential with a current score of 79 (Donald Trump’s score is 83). There are many ways to improve your
But Klout is not the only way to measure your ‘value’. Having highly trusted peers or colleagues in your sphere is a priceless asset.
You should be seeking these relationships out and cultivating them. Then secure endorsements and testimonials, and let those speak for you. You need to be the person that people want to go to. It’s 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, knowledgeable contact that people speak of fondly.
As entrepreneurs and leaders, 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 follow-up 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 the area of expanding your influential circle, as those who make the biggest leaps are introduced to their next big break
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 via global live streams and webinars.
It’s called The LSA Summit (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 work with, and the best ways to be attractive to those people.
Corporations, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and experts who have leveraged strategic relationships have gotten results and 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: www.LSAsummit.com.]
As mentioned the other resource I can vouch for is my No.1 International best-selling book “The Secret Collaborative Economy: More Clients, More Exposure, More Profit, FASTER!”; which has been heralded a “hot marketing book” on increasing sales, profits, targeted exposure and more; through endorsements, strategic alliances and leveraging power relationships that affect your bottom line.
More details on that here: www.SecretCollaborativeEconomy.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 from influential circles because you’ve become 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.