How you build your web of influence is up to you, and you are fully capable. Once you build the web, you have to master the art of nurturing those connections.
People say “circle of influence,” I say “web of influence” (the concept was probably in some book I read and it stuck with me). The power of connections, connecting one another and building relationships, is more of a web than it is a circle.
Below, I’ll share with you how I’ve built my web, how to strengthen connections, and a reflection on what I can do better. This will help you learn and reflect on your own web.
I used to think of networking and creating a circle as some formal concept that had to be forced. Then when I started to think of it as a natural part of life and as a way to express curiosity, a domino effect took place. One connection brought another.
Once my perspective shifted from forced conversation to an opportunity to learn and to be authentic with others, an organic, multi-dimensional web grew.
Have you ever wondered, how do I build my inner circle? How do I build my circle of influence? How do I obtain a mentor within my circle?
In the past, I asked myself those questions frequently.
My Dad frequently tells or asks me:
“keep your connections strong”
“stay in touch with people over time”
“Don’t lose touch with people”
“Have you reached out to [so and so] recently?”
Oftentimes, I felt like I was not doing enough to stay connected.
Only recently did I realize, I do have a web of influence. I do have a strong inner circle. Only, I never felt that way.
In a strange way, the layoff I was impacted by helped me see how many people care for me, and how many people are part of my web of influence. I saw it in the way more conversations with others got real. People I haven’t spoken to in years were vulnerable with me, sharing their stories, and hoping to help me with my journey.
Now, friendships and relationships with others feel stronger and deeper.
Time, vulnerability, and intentional effort developed trust.
The multi-dimensional web became more apparent.
So where did my web of influence develop?
- Those few colleagues I was close with in each job, now they are some of my closest friends. One buddy sends me pictures of his mountain biking adventures, vacations with his wife, and dogs. (Love you, Brian!)
- College friends and professors
- College acquaintances developed into friends over the years.
- Volunteer engagements (Thank you, Kurt for being a guiding light in a difficult time)
- My brother’s friends
- Game nights
- Spontaneous adventures
- Online courses
- The dog park
- The gym
How does a web of influence develop?
The strongest connections came through everyday living and being authentic with others. As you can see above, shared interests developed a connection. Over time, with intentional effort and consistency, the connection grows stronger.
How do you strengthen your web?
- Be generous
- Be curious
- Be relatable
- Be teachable
- Join communities
(List pulled from The John Maxwell Co)
In application: Reach out to others. Ask how people are doing. Send articles that remind you of them.
I tend to do this best with people whom I am closest to because there are more talking points when you know someone well. (One reason, of many reasons, I started posting on LinkedIn was to find who else cares for different subject matters that I follow.)
How can I do better?
For me, reaching out to others can be the most difficult part. There are A LOT of people out there that I care about and I don’t know how to consistently stay in touch with everyone. So I try to focus on what I can manage and occasionally reconnect with others over time.
What can you do better?
What I often think about:
When I look back on my career, sometimes I am disappointed with the strong connections that time proved otherwise. There were some incredible mentors that I wish stayed in my life. There were colleagues who, I hope are doing well but we never connected beyond work.
The most difficult realization for me is that not everyone wants to connect, not everyone needs a new friend, and not everyone cares. That is life.
The people that are meant to be in your web of influence will naturally join. Your job is to nurture those relationships and make sure there is mutual benefit. Be a giver more than a taker.
Build your web, nurture your connections, and be yourself along the way.
As always, please feel free to reach out if you want to chat as friends, as a coach, or as a support system.