Expanding The Circle (We’re called to expand and invest our influence)

We’re called to expand and invest our influence.

You and I are influential. Our families, coworkers, neighbors are impacted by our choices, words, and actions. Unless we live under a rock, we’re people of influence. The question is whether we’ll choose to be intentional about the direction and depth of our impact.

If we take that choice seriously, we need to consciously expand our circle of influence. Here are some thoughts based on a post from January 28, 2010.

Maybe you can think of a circle you’d like to grow—maybe a business, a church, or support for a cause—and work through this with me.

THE CIRCLE

Obviously, my first priority is remaining in the circle myself. That means I can’t violate my basic focus on valuing relationships simply to get people into circle.

Sometimes we get so excited about something that we’ll do almost anything to win converts. When that happens, we get violent activities in the name of peace or people who silence others with their demand for freedom to speak. I can’t leave the circle simply to get others inside.

The circle isn’t a place or a clique where we only hang out with those who are “like us.” Churches and organizations can be like that sometimes, but that’s not what I’m talking about. The circle represents folks who share a passion, an idea, a collection of common values or interests. You can’t share your passion by ignoring or de-valuing those who see things differently.

ENCOURAGE

Encouragement is for folks who are already inside the circle, so there’s some level of trust and understanding. You’re on some common ground, you speak the same basic language. You share some of the same interests and goals.

With people in the circle, you already have some permission to push a little, challenge ideas and actions. Have you ever watched a coach encourage players on a team? It’s often a mix of pat-on-the-back and kick-in-the-backside, but it works because they’ve already built a relationship.

It’s not okay to abuse or take people inside the circle for granted. This is the home crowd, the folks who have your back when things get tough. So you nurture these relationships carefully, always seeking deeper connections and more transparency.

After all, relationships are the whole point of the circle in the first place.

RECRUIT

Recruiting is for those close to the circle. They’re interested, they want to know more. Something in the circle attracts them, and they’re ready to at least consider joining. There’s something going on there that’s attractive.

They made the choice to approach. You didn’t go out and round them up, because that would require you to leave the circle. So you’re in your circle doing your thing, and you and other people are having fun, growing, and talking about how great it is. They see something they like and offer an opening, an opportunity for someone inside the circle to tell them what’s going on.

Recruiting is personal, but potential recruits probably aren’t talking directly to you even though it’s your blog or cause or product. They’re most likely talking other folks in the circle with whom they already have some sort of connection. So they’re talking, and listening, to your friends, readers, or customers.

This doesn’t mean that recruiting is an accident. Growing the circle is a highly intentional process centered around clear communication and authentic human connections. People in that kind of circle become energized and excited, and they naturally want to share their passion with others in their networks. This is word-of-mouth growth; it’s exponential, and viral, and a lot of fun.

EVANGELISM

Evangelizing is for folks a long distance from the circle. They haven’t expressed an interest, so the first problem is that somebody has to leave the circle to fetch them.

Evangelism is often associated with religion, but it can happen with any circle. Evangelists call you at dinner time and send spam email. They fill your mailbox with junk mail and yell at you on street corners.

This is the aggressive sales pitch you didn’t request. It’s about convincing and converting. Evangelists play on your fears, your greed, or your vulnerability. They exploit weakness.

Evangelists don’t want to take time to form relationships that attract you to the circle.

Evangelism works, as long as you don’t care who gets hurt. You might get a 2-3% response rate, and those who become irritated and alienated are just collateral damage, a cost of doing business.

Evangelism, in this context, is about coercion and manipulation.

The evangelist is that guy—you know, the one who never listens because his way, his product, his cause is all that matters.

I want to encourage, and I want to help with creating a circle that’s magnetic. But I never want to be that guy.

I am humbled by and grateful for your presence in this circle. It’s a lot of fun for me—because you’re here.

How about you? Can you see applications of encouraging, recruiting and evangelizing in your circles?

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Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of: Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

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