Your sphere of influence is the number of people you know or who know you. Here are some important tips on how to grow your business by growing your world.

     The key to making your business grow may be in your back pocket. Check the names in your PDA. Blackberry, cell phone, electronic card scanner, or address book. As you look through the list of people you know, you may be surprised by just how many there are: business associates, accountants, lawyers, insurance brokers, friends, and relatives. And the list doesn’t include only the people you speak with in your day-to-day life. What about the people who aren’t listed – like your next door neighbor, your mail carrier, the person who cuts your hair, your children’s teachers, and your veterinarian? No doubt, the number of names you can come up with is longer than you ever thought possible.

     In fact, most people could come up with an average of 200 names. Let’s call this the law of “200”. The principle is that everyone has a “personal sphere of influence” of approximately 200 people. It should also be noted that every one of those individuals also knows 200 people – meaning that once you get to know that person and he or she becomes part of your network, you’re also gaining access to the 200 people in that person’s network.

     An aspect of human nature is that people would rather do business with someone they know and trust than with a stranger. The proof lies in the fact that most people use the same accountant, the same car repair establishment, and the same doctors again and again. The same concept holds true for every aspect of business – not only for hair salons and medical offices but for contractors as well. The 200 people who make up your personal sphere of influence – the people who know you and like you – automatically comprise a net work that represents the strongest base of potential customers for your business.

     Not only are all the people in your network potential referral sources or clients; once they are satisfied, they’re probably going to tell the members of their sphere of influence about their experience. We’ve all found ourselves in need of a new service and found that the easiest way was to ask friends or other associates who they recommend. Once again, that magic number, 200, represents the people they know who all have the potential to become your customers.

     While we used 200 as the typical size of someone’s sphere of fluency, there’s no need to limit it to that number. Each one of us meets new people every day. We encounter new faces at the office, at parties, even while waiting for the bus. It’s not a bad idea to bring along a notebook wherever you go so you can write down names and contact information of newcomers to your sphere of influence. Don’t be shy, when you meet someone, ask for their business card. Remember to hand out your business card whenever you have the opportunity. You’ll be astounded by how quickly your sphere grows – and by how many new business opportunities arise out of cultivating your existing (and ever expanding) referral group.

     Of course, once you’re building a business relationship with someone from your sphere of influence, it’s critical that you provide the highest possible level of quality, service responsiveness and value. Otherwise, you stand a strong change of losing their business, which could mean losing the other 200 members of their sphere of influence, as well. Therefore, it’s crucial to be consistent, which is the best and only way of building a strong reputation. All it takes is one bad experience for a customer to find a new lawn service, paving contractor or coffee shop, even though he has been loyal for years.

     You don’t have to look too far when you’re looking to build your business. Simply look at the 200 people in your sphere of influence and the 200 people in their spheres of influence, and you’ll find new business opportunities all around you. After all, it isn’t just who you know or even what you know. It’s who likes you and trusts you and knows what you can do for them that are the key to building you business.