And Inside the Circle!
What a roller coaster ride these past few years. Economy Woes! Small Business Closures! Big Business Bankruptcies! Retail Center Vacancies! Church Property Foreclosures! Skyrocketing Gas Prices! And now the . . . the Financial Cliff and the pending Income Tax Hike of a Lifetime!
When I hear someone say… “It is time to think outside the box!” My first thought is…”It is time to throw the box away and start over!” The BOX not longer exists! Business as usual, no longer exists.
Then as I research and poll thousands of small business owners, consumers and corporate execs around the country I discovered the reality of today. It is time to step outside the box and inside the circle.
What I am referring to is going back to basics and embracing your circle of influence.
Your circle of influence includes both those closest to you, as well as your secondary circle of contacts.
Family, best friends, college friends, neighbors, hobby friends and close working associates are inside that primary circle of trust we carry with us day in and day out. Think about it! How many people in your life do you talk to every day, every week or several times a month? Those are the people that are in your inner most trusted circle. Many times referred to as the “STRONG TIES – RELATIONSHIPS”
Then, interestingly enough, what we have is our outer circle which consists of “Weak Ties – Relationships” which in many cases we max out on communication points with these individuals when we reach 150. It is virtually impossible for anyone to communicate with, or keep in contact with more than 150 people. At least that is what my research has uncovered. And the descriptive point here is “knowing something about these 150” contacts. Is you can not remember what they look like, the last time you saw them or their marital status, then they are basically NOT in your circle.
So how does social media, business contacts, and other forms of e-contact work into the picture. Well for me, it becomes a nightmare trying to juggle thousands of contacts on Facebook, even more on Linkedin and then of course well into the hundreds of thousands of consumers that I work with throughout the year. Putting aside my crazy Rolodex of names and email addresses, let’s concentrate on yours! How do you do it? The following represents a more realistic view of our “FRIENDS”.
When you look at how social media, such as Facebook, MySpace and others tried to bring our entire lives into ONE circle, well ultimately it had to fail. I see it, hear it, through all the comments and posts almost daily. The average number of “friends” a Facebook account holder has is 130 and out of those they only communicate with 4 to 6 on a regular basis. The rest of the quote friends are connected, yet really NOT connected at all. As a matter of fact most of the COMMENTS or daily “Whats on my mind” statements are really being posted with a certain number of people in mind, not 130, or in many cases 2000+ people.
Not only do we really place everyone in our life in a different “group” if you will, we also talk to them totally differently. I certainly would not tell my clients that are friends on Facebook that I had terrible fight with my ex-wife over the weekend, or got way to drunk at a friend’s party last night. This is what we are reading day in and day out.
If I could give one piece of advice to anyone with an “active” Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Linkedin or other social media account, it would be this. Never post anything that you would not want a “predator – criminal” to read about you. Such as … “At the airport ready to leave for my two weeks in the Bahamas” What an open invitation for someone that has been stalking you to break into your house and clean you out.
Sorry for stepping aside of the main topic here, I have investigated way to many “fake” profiles on Facebook and the rest not to be concerned over how open some people are with their personal information online.
If you type it, post it, comment on it…. expect it to be in public view and accessible by everyone in a matter of minutes.
So… back to the BOX and the CIRCLE. As mentioned above, part of this process is getting back to basics where we develop our relationships. 50 years ago, before we had cell phones, faxes, emails and social media, we did business two ways. Personal introductions and by referral/recommendation by a family member or friend. If we did not have a way to receive a recommendation, we would use the Yellow Pages and go and visit the business.
What has changed over the past 50 years has been our access to incredible amounts of information on businesses across the street as well as around the world. However, we still purchase 70% + of everything we buy within 3 to 5 miles of our home or office. Some things never change.
While online advertising, such as Google Ads and Banner Ads created a big stir for several years, the most recent Neilson Reports reflect that less than 3 out of 10 Adults trust online ADVERTISING, or click through on the Ads. According to the reports, 9 out of 10 Adults trust recommendations and referrals over online Ads. So the future is still holding onto the past harder than ever. What we have is just a more well informed consumer. Consumers armed with a vast amount of information to make informed buying decisions.
So where do we go from here and how does our CIRCLE of influence help us as small business owners. The circle helps by nurturing the relationships within the circle and understanding that no one within the circle can be placed in the same communication cycle as all the rest. Keep your friends in Facebook, your business contacts in Linkedin, your Tweets directed to those that care about what you have to say.
BUILD these relationships. Find out what you can do for them before you start asking them for something to help you. Grow your understanding of who are in your circle and keep them limited to that 150 mark. Those outside the 150 can be considered “Pending Relationships”