Centers of Influence (COI)

Growing Your Networking Team

I once heard a great analogy comparing Koi Fish Ponds to Center of Influence (C.O.I.) Ponds.  Though nothing like traditional Japanese Koi ponds, they are similar in that you can link your C.O.I. ponds with other ponds to exponentially grow your pond.  

In essence, when you add someone to your network you are effectively adding their Circle of Influence sphere to yours and vice versa.  You’ll be connecting the hundreds of people you know to them and the hundreds of people they know to you.  A solid networking team of 15 or so professionals probably has upwards of 15,000 meaningful relationships (more if you count social media) they have in their collective influence.

One thing I’ve found interesting over the years of helping to build extraordinary organization and events is it doesn’t require extraordinary effort.  All it takes is just a handful of people, often as few as 3 or 4 teammates regularly and consistently inviting a visitor or two.

Sometimes, I hear, “If everyone just invites one person….”  However, in reality, if we asked everyone to just invite one, how many guests do you think actually get invited?  The answer oddly enough is “Not Many.”  The odds are much more in our favor if those 3 or 4 teammates each consistently invite two visitors and also held each other accountable.  If you and two of your teammates each invited two, how many guests do you believe will actually get invited each week?

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

So, I encourage you, challenge you, and hope you’ll accept the challenge of being one of the 3 to 4 teammates to rapidly expand your C.O.I. Ponds.  Not only will your team have magnetic, amazing energy and vibrance, but you’ll likely grow your personal influence within your team and your network by adding value.  You can even use inviting as a method of low-pressure prospecting in which you are helping your prospects connect with other professionals.  And, at the end of the day, it feels pretty cool to be the gal or guy that everyone reaches out to when they have a problem with anything.  You’ll start to regularly hear things like, “Do you know someone that…..?”

Guests to invite to your C.O.I. pond are everywhere; however, I’ve found a couple of honey holes where professionals are more likely to be receptive.

  • First, I consider who is my networking team most likely to give a referral to.  Frankly, that is a super easy invitation to make, “Hey, we’re looking for a ______________ to give referrals to.”
  • Then, I consider who is most likely to need someone like me to send their referrals, hence solving a problem for their clients.
  • Social media is a pretty convenient source of likely candidates as well whether that be asking for a recommendation on Facebook or sending someone you’re connected to on LinkedIn a message.
  • Another fun source is all the chamber of commerce, networking events, and mixers around your area.


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