In many cases, the difference between success and failure can come down to who you know. In the entrepreneurial business, we have a term I coined the “circle of influence.” The circle of influence is essentially everyone you interact with. It can even extend to everyone they interact with.
In the circle of influence, everything you do is going to influence those close to you. At the same time, everything that people in your circle of influence do can affect you. This concept can even stretch outside of entrepreneurship. Many times, people become a product of who they’re around.
The idea behind the circle of influence is simple. The more time we spend around people who work hard, set goals and push forward, the more likely we are to pick up their positive traits. At the same time, if we surround ourselves with underachievers, we may end up picking up negative traits.
Who you know is important, but not just for their connections. The relationships you build are going to affect you, your business and your life’s trajectory.
Everyone who interacts with you will think this way. What can you offer them? People are naturally social, but nobody wants to build a social bond with someone who isn’t working to their potential. If you want to succeed, not just as an entrepreneur, but also as an individual, you need to understand the concept of social currency.
You have value. You may not be able to pinpoint what is valuable about you, and you probably can’t accurately gauge just how valuable you are. But everyone has value, and the sooner you start to pay attention to your value as an individual, the sooner you can develop and build upon it.
Social currency is an idea that describes this. Consider any type of currency, like a dollar bill. Your dollar bill can buy you anything up to one dollar in value. It has a certain value, and you know what it’s worth. But one dollar isn’t the only denomination. There are $10, $20 and $100 dollar bills, and each has more value than one dollar.
When thinking about social currency, understand that you have value. However, unlike a dollar bill, your value isn’t set. You can be worth $1, or you can be worth $100. The decision is yours. If you don’t make a decision, you’ll still have value. It could just end up being much less than you are worth.
That’s the beauty of value — we can be worth as much as we want. If you work hard enough and make the right moves, you could become the most valuable person in your business, field or even beyond that. But the first step is understanding that you have value, and your value isn’t set. You can change it, for better or for worse.
Building valuable relationships.
Your circle of influence can play a large role building your social currency. Connections are a big part of entrepreneurship, and forming the right connections can go a long way in establishing your value as an entrepreneur.
However, before you can build strong connections, you need to understand that connections don’t just happen by chance. Everything you say and do is going to impact your relationships with people, and no one will want to form any type of relationship with you if you don’t demonstrate some type of value.
Your value can come in many different forms, and it may be simpler to demonstrate value than you think. For example, proving that you’re trustworthy demonstrates your value. You want to surround yourself with people you can trust, and everyone else in your circle of influence is no different. If no one can trust you, what’s your value?
Another simple form of value comes from consistency. You could be working with the brightest person in your field, but does it mean anything if they miss meetings, take days to respond or at times give minimal effort? The answer is no, and we can learn from it. Find people who are consistent, and stay consistent yourself. There’s no need to take risks on inconsistent people.
Another way to build your own value is by growing as a person.
Building your own value.
You have social currency — but what’s your value? While our value can be determined by the quality of our connections, it can also be determined by the quality of ourselves. If you want to find out what your quality is, think of yourself as a brand. You have to market yourself, and your value will be determined by what your brand is offering.
To develop a brand, marketers look at what the brand has to offer. Also, brands need a place to grow into. A business with a stagnant brand is doomed to slip into mediocrity. Think of yourself in this way — how are you going to grow into something bigger? What are you going to develop that will make you more valuable?
This type of value goes beyond trust and consistency. Anyone can be trustworthy, and they can become consistent enough to impress. But think about how hard it is to meet someone who is trustworthy, consistent and a major asset as a person. You can make yourself into this person.
Develop all of your skills — and perhaps try to form new skills altogether — to build your value. You are social currency, and you want to be the most valuable piece of currency out there.