How To Expand Your Circle

by Rich Dixon on January 5, 2010

Campfire3-mHow do you expand your circle?

If you’ve followed along for a while, you know that I think about this community as a circle. The basic idea is that the circle defines whatever the community’s about—core values, mission, goals, stuff like that. You can check out the about page or Defining The Circle for some info about this particular circle.

So in my visual, people inside the circle are folks who buy in to what the circle represents. A particular circle might be a business with employees and customers, a church or other ministry, or even a neighborhood. Some circles, such as a business, are tightly defined. Others, like a neighborhood, might be more loosely defined.

If I haven’t lost you yet, stop and think for a moment about one of your circles and the values, mission, and goals that define it. Then ask yourself how you might go about expanding the circle. Basically, I think about two models which I call push and attract.


Pushing people into the circle looks like this. It’s basically about coercion, and it’s built around selling, convincing, and persuading.

  • It’s a talking model—it says, “You listen, and we’ll tell you what you need and why you should do it our way with our program.”
  • It’s very difficult and expensive to sustain. There’s little incentive for those who are forced or coerced to become loyal supporters and promoters, so you must constantly prowl for new victims.
  • It requires incredible persistence, because the moment you stop pushing they’re likely to leave.

Most importantly: To push people into the circle, you must stand outside the circle and shove people in a direction they may not really want to go. Do you see what that means symbolically? Leaving the circle means abandoning the very values you’re trying to promote.


Attracting people to the circle is like being a magnet. It’s about doing things that people want to be part of, built around modeling and meeting needs.

  • It’s a listening model—it says, “Tell me what you need and we’ll work together to meet those needs.”
  • Because it’s an attraction model, it’s much easier to sustain. People who are excited about the message and programs will remain without coercion and will willingly recruit others.
  • This approach says we’re on the same journey, and we’re all learners, helpers, and facilitators with common interests.

The key difference for me is that you pull people into the circle from the inside. They enter and remain willingly. Symbolically, that means we bring people into the circle more with our actions and attitudes than our words and expertise. So you attract new members by living and being the values you’re promoting.


The push model demands exclusivity. If someone resists, you simply move on to the next prospect. You spend your time sorting people into prospects (worthwhile) and non-prospects (not worthwhile).

The attraction model invites inclusivity. You spend your time building relationships, listening, and figuring out how to help people.

That doesn’t mean that everyone will be in your circle. Some will make different choices, but you always leave the door open if they are attracted to what’s happening in your circle.

What’s your take? Can you see how this applies to your circles? How will you expand your circles in 2010?


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Related articles:

Defining The Circle

Setting The Stage For Success

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