Your Outer Circles

Yesterday we talked about your networking inner circle — those folks whom you know, who know you, and with whom you can exchange referrals regularly. They’re the ones you should be spending a lot of time working with and cultivating.

Great. So what about your “outer circle”? Should you just ignore them?

Of course not. While your inner circle is what provides the depth, your outer circle provides breadth. Your outer circle is what make you into someone to know. If you have hundreds or even thousands of people in those outer circles, then you have a vast plethora of people whom you can refer to your inner circle and vice versa.

So, how do you develop your outer circle?

This is where attending several events a month (or even several a week) comes in. This is where you are going to meet the new connections. Then comes the one-to-one get-togethers — the coffees, lunches, and breakfasts. This is where you strengthen the relationships and move them along the ART continuum.

Your outer circle will have multiple rings. In the very center is you and immediately surrounding you is your inner circle. Just outside of them will be those folks whom you have known for a fair amount of time. They will definitely be somewhere in the “Trust” level. They may even have passed you a great referral or two, but for whatever reason they just can’t make it into the inner circle. For example, they just may not have time to refer business to you regularly or you might trust them for the most part, but you know that they aren’t terribly reliable in their business.

Further out will be those whom you’ve met once or twice for coffee. They may have connected you with a lukewarm lead, but they don’t really know who your ideal client is. Before you can really say you Trust them, you’ll need to know them a little better.

Beyond that ring are those whom you’ve just met. You have a name and contact information, but other than that, you might not recognize them if they walked up to you on the street. Finally, beyond this ring are all of the people whom you’ve not encountered yet.

Relationships being what they are, they can stall at any point in the continuum. Whether for lack of time, lack of interest, or just general incompatibility, they naturally stop progressing inward and find some equilibrium point further out. It’s not a bad thing. Really, we can have only so many people in our inner circle. Just like we can have only so many close, personal friends.

Remember, though, that you can’t ignore those people who aren’t in the inner circle. It’s the outer circle which makes you a valuable person to know.

Photo credit: Svilen Milev

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About Greg Peters

Greg Peters, president and founder of The Reluctant Networker, LLC, is a business networking specialist. He works with trade associations on both the local and national level to create a culture of better connections and greater opportunity. Find out more at www.TheReluctantNetworker.com or gpeters@thereluctantnetworker.com.

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