Several weeks ago I received an invitation to fly down to Austin, Texas and spend an afternoon with Ray Bard. Ray is indeed one of the most brilliant men that I have had the opportunity to encounter. Ray has the uncanny ability to take a complex concept, simplify it, analyze the moving parts, and assemble a very successful mechanism. Ray has represented more business best selling books and helped launch more famous books than anyone else in the industry.

As we were meeting with Ray he outlined a model that he’d been giving some thought to titled, “The Five Circles of Influence” which I wish to share with you today. This is a contextual way to consider your relationships. Looking at the diagram you will see outlines of the five layers of networking in your life.

The most inner circle is your Blood Brothers and Sisters. This is a very small group of individuals that would take a bullet for you. These are the people that would actually jump in front of a car for you at their own peril to protect and save you. If you’re a very lucky individual you may have one or two people. A rich and wealthy man beyond belief will have five or six individuals in this category. Truth be told, sadly many people have no one in their life that falls into this category.

The next circle is known as the Inner Circle. Again if you are indeed wealthy, Ten to fifteen people maximum go into this group. These are people that you could call at 3 a.m. and they would pick up your phone call without any hesitation. These people are very, very close to you.

The next group is known as your Tribe. Your tribe is typically made up of maybe fifty. These people are like-minded; they share common interests, are very aligned and closely associated with you, and are strong believers in you but wouldn’t necessarily take a bullet for you.

The next is your Community. This is your neighborhood. Most groups are around three hundred strong. As Ray talked about it turns out that people typically don’t know more than three hundred people and can’t remember more than three hundred names. This circle would be people on your Christmas card mailing list. This is your community of people you know.

The most outward circle is your Network. This group includes everyone in your Rolodex that you’ve ever met that you would have association or contact with.

The entirety of these groups constitute the power and influence in your life. The more influential your inner circles the more powerful you will be and the more impact and reach you will have. For instance, if one of your three blood brothers happens to be someone extremely powerful then your area of influence also dramatically increases. This is a very interesting diagram if you’re looking at it from the standpoint of being a thought-leader, publishing a book with the intent to turn it into a best-seller, if you’re looking to have influence from a political standpoint, or if you’re just trying to define your relationships. Too frequently we mistreat and we don’t understand why people aren’t responding the way that we want them to. It’s because we don’t clearly have them in the influence circle that we think we do.

Along with that it’s also important to understand that to keep people in the inner circles we have to put a lot of energy into the relationship. Think of your high school friends who you were very, very close to. Now they are likely way on the outside. So if you don’t put energy and effort into relationships then they actually tend to float out to the outer circles.

The conclusion that I drew is chose your inner circles wisely and don’t confuse those you should be friendly with to those who are true friends.
Thank you, Ray Bard. I very much appreciate that knowledge and it is definitely something that we can apply in all our business relationships as well as our personal relationships.