I’m learning the exponential power of relationship building. And I’m excited as to how fast it can grow your company. We do a good bit of content marketing in our firm, but faster growth is coming from one on one relationships with real people. Relationship building, or Networking as it is often known, and Content Marketing are two important balances in any firm. Most firm leaders are imbalanced on one side or the other. As people, we are drawn to the activity where we feel most comfortable. Surprisingly, I’ve felt most comfortable on the content development side. But relationship building is so important, and I’m unlocking it’s power (and I’m pretty good at that too)!
I heard myself preaching the power of relationship building the other day in a coaching meeting with a client. They are huge content creators, and they are good at it. I challenged them to go have coffee with someone they didn’t know and they pushed back big time. They just felt like it wasn’t part of their creative dojo. So I pushed harder, and asked if they would take a challenge with me to meet one new person they had never met for coffee. This included me too. The challenge was we would both try to have coffee with just one person that we had never had coffee with before in the next two weeks.
But who should we contact? It’s hard to come up with a list of potential clients or leads you should contact. As I thought about it, I told my client that the first person you email may be someone you know, but may not be your ultimate client. The first person you contact is just another person with a circle of influence that you don’t currently have access to. In my head, it looks like this:
You certainly know another person (again, they don’t have to be a potential client). That person has a circle of influence around them that you do NOT have access to right now. They’ve met people that you haven’t met. Who knows how many potential leads and clients are in the circles of influence with the people you know? 10? 20? 50? I guess the number of potential clients they know depends on their influence, so pick the person you want to have coffee with wisely.
In the challenge with my client, I picked a person I know well. And this person happens to know someone with a large circle of influence that I do not have access to. So I asked if my friend would introduce me to the person they knew just so I could have coffee with them. He said yes! And now the process starts. In the diagram above, I get to meet with a person I know, who has access to a whole list of other people that I would probably never meet otherwise. But I’m not done yet.
Follow the one-two punch of coffee meetings:
- first, I have to look at this ‘Person I Know’s’ Linkedin profile right before we have coffee. I’ve done this before and it made me wiser about what to talk about, and who to ask about.
- then, before the meeting is over I have to say, “I enjoy meeting other people, do you think there are other people you know that I could meet?” Again, I’ve done this recently and I got 5 to 6 new names to talk to. Think about it – that’s 5 or 6 brand new Circles of Influence that I would otherwise have NO access to. Now I do.
Now you start to see the exponential nature of relationship building! I wonder how many new Circles of Influence I’ll tap into if I meet with just 5 of the new names that a recent coffee meeting led me to? If each of those 5 names gives me 5 new names, then the Circles of Influence will reach 25 new Circles of Influence. It is amazing how rapidly your influence could spread. And surely these Circles of Influence could begin to overlap one another. Overlapping Circles of Influence (or OCIs) are even more powerful:
new lead named Doug: “hey Jason, do you know Tom?”
me: “yes! I just had coffee with Tom last week. Tom mentioned a dude named John to me that I would love to meet. Do you know John?”
new lead named Doug: “yes! I used to work with John – I’ll introduce you two so you can meet.”
me: “woot! woot!”
In the above discourse, John could be a potential client, but I had to meet with Tom first and then Doug second to get to John (did you follow that?). But it’s okay – it only cost me two Tall Hot Vanilla Lattes (2 pumps of vanilla) to meet John. I love Hot Vanilla Lattes! How can that be bad?
So what should you do now? I’ll tell you. All you have to do is order a Tall Hot Vanilla Latte (2 pumps of vanilla) with one new person you’ve never had coffee with before. Then follow the one-two punch of coffee meetings and you are on your way to many overlapping OCIs! Let me know how it goes.
Jason is the Founder of Thriveal and the Chief Innovative Officer of his CPA firm, Blumer & Associates. He is the co-host of the Thrivecast and The Businessology Show and speaks and writes frequently for CPAs and creatives, his firm’s chosen niche. Jason loves to watch documentaries on just about anything. He lives in Greenville, SC with his wife and their three children.