Here’s a truth in business that’s often overlooked.
Your business will only grow to the size of your current circle. You have access to a certain audience and unless you actively and purposefully grow that audience you will never get your message in front of new prospects.
You may be thinking, Chris, are you saying that my business will never grow bigger than it currently is?
Absolutely not, but I am saying you have to be proactive. You have to extend your reach to gain access to more people in order to grow. There are a lot of different ways that you can grow your business circle, but I want to touch on a couple of the more effective for Youpreneurs:
- Aligning Yourself with Other Experts
- Attending Live Events
Aligning Yourself with Other Experts
Growing your circle really begins with the people you choose to surround yourself with. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Let’s just pause there for a second. That’s huge. That’s really, really important to understand. The five people that you interact with the most have a profound influence on you. If you’re surrounding yourself with people that aren’t on board with what you’re all about, you’re swimming upstream against a pretty powerful current straight away.
If you surround yourself with people that understand what you’re all about, you will find it much easier to navigate the waters of success!
I would even take it one step further and say you should surround yourself with people that have more experience than you. You never really want to be the smartest person in the room, or on the call.
But, you shouldn’t build relationships with other influencers just because you want to get access to their email list, or because you want to be on their podcast, or because you want to get invited to the live event that they’re holding. This is about building real relationships, ones that will develop over a number of years.
Relationships should be treasured, not used.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when a person I barely know asks me to promote their product. I’ve met them five minutes ago, and they want me to help them sell something because they know that I’ve got a good-sized email list. That’s somebody who is simply out to use relationships. It doesn’t go down very well with me at all. I think you’ll find that it won’t go down with anybody else either. Take the time to really get to know the person you’re wanting to align yourself with.
A long-term relationship fosters long-term success, but burnt bridges can never be crossed again.
Align yourself with the type of influencers you want to become known for hanging out with, but do it for the right reasons. One of the best ways to build close relationships with people is to get to know them on a personal level.
Start off by putting together a list of maybe four or five people in your industry that you would like to build a deep, long-lasting relationship with. You may know all or some of the people on this list already and want to take those relationships up a notch. Or maybe you’ve never met or spoken to these people before, but you want to start building a relationship with them. Whatever the case may be, write their names down.
Once you have the list, start figuring out what those five people are up to and how you can help. How can your expertise directly benefit them? Maybe they’ve got a problem they’re struggling with and you can provide a solution.
The important thing is to make sure you’re genuine about wanting to build a real relationship. How do you make that type of personal connection? One way is to understand that pen and paper still work. In fact, I use this strategy quite often. I have plain white postcards printed with my Chris Ducker logo centered at the top. That’s it. There’s nothing else on either side. No corny photos, or slogans, or anything like that. It’s just a simple card with my logo at the top. I use these to handwrite messages to people.
OMG … Chris, please tell me you’re not talking about real mail with stamps and everything! That’s exactly what I’m talking about. I quite regularly send these postcards to people, and you should too. Sometimes, at conferences, I will have a batch of these cards in my bag and when I meet someone for the first time, if I’ve had an enjoyable dinner with them or if I enjoyed that short coffee meeting we had in the corridor, I’ll write them a quick message on one of the cards. Then I take it to the concierge’s desk at the hotel and say, “I’m not sure what room Mr. Smith is in, but could you please make sure that he gets this from me?” People remember this kind of stuff. Following up doesn’t always have to be via a tweet or via an email, as a matter of fact, it sometimes shouldn’t be.
That personal touch can mean a lot in developing the relationships that will obviously help grow your circle and your business for years to come.
Attending Live Events
The second way to grow your circle is attending live events. I love live events.
I want to build relationships with handshakes, hugs and high-fives.
From time to time I might even include a bit of kissing on cheeks because I’m English, and we like to do that every now and then! You want to get to the point where you are with the people you want to be close to, and I mean with them in person.
We live in a very fragmented world, and particularly when building an online business, it’s actually quite lonely sometimes. As an entrepreneur, you are on your own a lot, and it’s nice to be able to get to live events to hang out with people. So build relationships with handshakes, hugs, coffee meetings, dinners, even running around in the gym first thing in the morning. Just get out and be social.
Not all live events are created equally, so choose very carefully. They cost money. Whenever you go to an event, it’s more than just the ticket to the event that you’re buying. You also have travel fare, hotel costs, and food costs.
One strategy I would suggest is staying away from the huge industry events in the beginning. Work on building relationships with people at smaller events instead. The people that you want to bring into and expand your business circle will likely attend the smaller events as well as the big ones, but they’ll be easier to find at smaller events.
Another reason why you need to carefully choose which events you attend is time. Time is our most valuable commodity as entrepreneurs. When you commit to attending a conference, you’re devoting two or three days to being at the event and a couple traveling to and fro—that’s a week of your life. You’re giving up a week of working on your business that you’ll never get back again. You’ve got to not only choose wisely because of the money investment, but also because of your time investment.
When you attend a live event, leave the people you meet with a strong positive first impression. That means there are a few things to avoid.
Number one—don’t be that person who doesn’t buy a ticket to the event but who walks around the corridors, goes to all the networking get-togethers, and hangs around the lobby trying to grab people’s attention. That’s annoying at best and you certainly don’t want to be known as that person.
Number two—even if you buy a ticket to the event don’t just walk into rooms and start throwing around business cards like ninja stars! Take the time to meet people before you deal out your contact information. I will not likely keep a card from someone that just walks up and hands it to me without any background or knowledge of who that person is.
Number three—avoid alcohol at live events. You don’t need it. A glass of wine at dinner might be okay, but you don’t want to be the person that gets drunk and makes an idiot of themselves at the network gathering in the bar. That person doesn’t build strong, long-lasting relationships with real players; they just get labeled as someone to avoid.
That’s not who you want to become!
I hope these strategies prove helpful for you – there’s plenty more where they came from…
This post was an excerpt from my new book ‘Rise of the Youpreneur’, which is available NOW at RiseOfTheYoupreneur.com (including bonuses!), and everywhere else where good books are sold!