In his book “Achieving Success Through Social Capital”, the author Dr. Wayne Baker introduces a social capital model, based on the concept of reciprocity: The more we generously share with the world, the more we receive in return. In creating meaningful relationships with other people we expand our circle of influence. The quality of those relationships defines our ability to succeed.
The graphic to the left illustrates the basic idea. Within the bigger circle of all the people we know in our network, a few “advocates” and people within a “Circle of 10” appear as most important for our personal and business success.
The people within the “Circle of 10” are the ones closest to you, who support, inspire and encourage you. You can identify them by asking the following questions (example):
- Who can you call in the middle of the night for advice?
- Who would borrow you money?
- Who do YOU support, encourage and inspire?
- Who would stand beside you even when you have done something stupid?
Most people will have just a few people within this category, usually not more than three. It takes an intentional effort to develop a bigger circle of ten. The main question regarding your expansion is: “Are you willing to be a Circle of 10 member for somebody else? Everybody has different expectations for his or her inner circle of ten. A good exercise would be to define the criteria for your own circle of ten and then list all the people that meet these criteria.
The second circle is your Advocate Circle. Advocates are people who support you and are speaking on your behalf. They know you on a professional level and recommend you within their own network. They know you through a personal or business relationship, trust your skills as a professional within your field and refer others to you on a more or less regular basis.
While expanding your network of advocates, screen all organizations, companies, friendship circles, social media contacts, industry associations, customers and students or teachers for possible candidates.
Your task is to identify your most valuable contacts, and connect with them on a regular basis. Help them in reaching their goals and recommend them to others. Ring them up, email them or meet them personally to share new ideas and stories.
The ultimate goal within Dr. Baker’s model is to become a “Linchpin“. Those people connect different groups of people and spread ideas, valuable information and resources across many boundaries. As a linchpin, they are an active and often leading member of several professional, spiriitual and social organisations. People come to them frequently to ask for advice or contacts.
- Make a list of criteria for your circle of 10 and advocates
- List your existing Circle of 10 and advocates
- Screen your contacts and identify the most valuable contacts
- Connect with them on a regular basis, share valuable information and recommend them
- Establish a contact database (excel, phone, social network) and keep your contacts up to date