Where Are You in Your Circle?

A look at networking and relationships

Last week during the Mañana No Mas! Morning Check-In, I found myself talking out a theory of networking in real-time. As I share the replays in my LinkedIn feed, I was getting messages and feedback that led me to believe I have hit something in the sweet spot.

What I had said was that due to issues we all deal with regarding pride, we may think we are building a networking circle around us. We picture things as they build around us as the center of what we do. But in reality, especially if you are a service provider, consultant, or coach – you are not at the center of the circle. Your target is. For me, the target is people we intend to add value to.

Placing the people in the center of the circle takes you out to the edge. I like that thought. I like that in certain circles, I am simply claiming a seat at the very edge, with many others, having the same goal of adding value to those within the circle. While a super-focused person may only consider themselves to have one – maybe two circles, I propose that we participate in many circles. Using a bit of introspection, we can then determine if we are in the center – having value added to us, or if we are closer to the edge – adding value.

Mañana No Mas! 7/14/21
Mañana No Mas! 7/15/21

This transition happens quietly in most cases and some never really detect it. Let’s say you join the Speaker Author Coach Network with Jake Ballentine. That group is currently over 10,000 people on Facebook and is very active in the speaking category. You might think it’s just Jake. In fact, at first, with the old paradigm, you would picture Jake at the center of the circle and all the members surrounding him. This “Seat at the Edge” concept puts the members in the center, with Jake on the edge. But it isn’t just Jake.

Jake has moderators that assist him in the group. So that automatically puts premier group members like Ryan Dunphy and Gregg Kettner out to the edge with him. Featured speakers from his previous events that participate in the group also fill in seats at the edge. Andrew Eggleton and Tim Gillette come to mind.

Like all good leaders, Jake recognizes he isn’t at the top of the pyramid, so he brings in guests to feature. One of the most prominent in the space I can recall is Les Brown. He also holds a seat at the edge. So in my mind now, is a circle of like-minded (not same-minded) experts, all seated at the edge of the circle focused on adding value to those in the center. As value is accrued in the center, people may expand to the edge and pour back into the center – perpetuating the growth of the circle.

Part of the reason I like this visual is that it takes the pressure off. I am involved in a lot of circles, and the more I recognize that I am simply a seat at the edge instead of the spotlight, the more calm and focused on my craft I can become.

Let me explain it using the Powersport Roundtable. The Powersport Roundtable is an effort I created to bring value to those that own and run Motorcycle Dealerships. Could I speak on just about every position within the motorcycle dealership? Yes. Should I? Well, I would answer that as a “No”.

My focus is on something called Fixed Operations. That is the idea of focusing on the parts of the business that occur after the sale of the main product. So my focus is mainly on the Service Department. What I did in an effort to add value to the industry is put together experts from other areas in the field, then combine our efforts to teach dealers. So instead of having dealers sign in to watch the Kurt Show, they came to a meeting held by 5 professionals – all focused on their area of expertise.

Instead of one guy in the center, we placed the dealers in the center. We then each took our turn from our seat at the edge to add value to that circle. We had Sales, Leadership, Business, Social Marketing, Inventory, and of course Service all featured.

Network circles allow us to focus on our strengths without leaving people unfulfilled. A good network circle has enough seats at the edge so everything needed – is provided. Good network circles also allow us to share the spotlight and accolades, which over time helps build legitimate humility. Third-party edification continues to reinforce our personal branding. If your circle is good at sharing the credit and promoting the wins of its teammates, you don’t have to beat your own drum as much. People see it.

So now the challenge is… where are your circles? Who is in your circles? Who would you like to share your circles with?