Steps to Networking – Step 59: Caterina Rando’s Circle of Eight

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 12th, 2010

STEP 59: Caterina Rando’s Circle of Eight

Business success coach and author Caterina Rando was looking for innovative ways to get better results—faster, and with less energy and resource output. An area that challenged her was how business people could generate qualified leads: find potential clients for their products or services. As a result, she devised a solution that she believes produces more leads and enhances members’ careers in less time and for just pennies a day. Rando says her idea is innovative because “It works for anyone, anywhere, on any budget.”

The genesis of the Circle of Eight came from the bookThe Tipping Point, in which author Malcolm Gladwell detailed studies that showed that people easily remember seven things. For example, if ten different people who were standing in front of you suddenly vanished, you would easily recall seven of them. Additionally, Rando cites research that found that members of leads-exchange groups usually have seven people with whom they consistently exchange reciprocal leads.

The relatively small size of a Circle of Eight is makes it controllable and not unwieldy. Members can communicate easily, develop closer relationships, learn about each other’s businesses and needs and be alert for leads for other Circle members. A Circle of Eight is inexpensive to launch and maintain. You select seven complimentary partners for your Circle and tap into their networks, smarts, experience and resources.

To create a Circle of Eight, identify companies or individuals who provide a different, but complimentary, product or service from what you provide. Also make sure that your Circle members are all seeking the same customer profile. Select members who you trust, like, respect and with whom you will be happy to be identified. Choose carefully because if one or two members don’t measure up, the Circle could collapse or, worse yet, your reputation could be tarnished.

Pick compatible partners, who are involved in businesses that will work with your group. For example, an interior designer who specializes in office design might invite into her Circle of Eight an architect, a painting contractor, a office-furniture dealer, an electrical contractor, a floor-covering firm, a landscape architect and a lighting-fixtures company.

In a Circle of Eight, meetings are held via the phone on a conference or bridge line. Forty-five minute sessions are scheduled every two or three weeks to keep connected, ask questions and exchange ideas. Members can network with other members from all over the country without leaving their offices and be the first to learn of regional trends that they could import. Rando assembled eight experts/speakers from different regions throughout the country and Canada for her Circle. In your Circle of Eight, you can partner with firms that are based anywhere instead of being forced to partner with nearby firms of lesser value. You can seek out the best wherever they are located.

As soon as a Circle member comes across a lead, he/she circulates it electronically to all members. This allows Circle members to get leads quickly and act immediately on those that interest them. With seven other people beating the bushes for leads for you, your opportunities will multiply. Since all information is sent directly to your computer, you can easily categorize, calendar and file it, which helps you stay well organized.

A Circle member is selected to be the facilitator for each meeting. When circle members get together by phone for their sessions, they follow a regular agenda. Sessions start with each member giving a quick report on the status of his/her business. Then each member informs the group how many leads, resources or strategic referrals they have given the other members. In the Circle,

• A lead is something that leads to financial remuneration
• A resource is someone or something that can provide help and
• A strategic referral is something that will help a member, but does not involve payment. For example, speaking at an even that does not pay a fee, but will boost the member’s career.

During the sessions, members report on how much they made from referrals from the Circle. They also tell the other Circle members how many leads they will provide and how many speeches they will book by the next Circle meeting.

In addition, members discuss projects they have heard about in areas of interest to Circle members. They also find out about other Circle members’ needs or interests and areas where they can partner, refer or help. Members can brainstorm ideas, share referrals and connect other members to both current and past clients who might be interested in a Circle member’s services. Members can also discuss innovations in their respective industries, which could work for other members.

Members can also provide each other with resources. They can recommend vendors, share cost-cutting and technical innovations and inform other members about trade shows and other upcoming events of interest. Members can also enter into cooperative marketing ventures such as partnering on mailings or ads that would be prohibitively expensive for any one member.

Circles of Eight usually become circles of friends because the members seek and depend upon each other for advice and resources. Each Circle member gains valuable support because the other members serve as his/her sounding boards, Board of Directors, expanded sales force and allies. The key feature of a Circle of Eight is that all members actively search for opportunities that will advance the other members and their businesses.

Consider creating your own Circle of Eight. Rando’s blueprint can be adapted to fit diverse situations, is easy to operate and can provide great rewards. Plus, you don’t have to mortgage the farm.

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)

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