Guest post – Andrea Baxter is a senior marketing professional and a co-founder of Smart Cookies, founded in early 2007. Educating women on how to be smart with their money while living fabulously, the Smart Cookies have appeared on CNN, Oprah, MSNBC, and ABC News. They have published two best-selling books and host their own TV show.
As a businesswoman, more importantly, an entrepreneur, I have come to learn that there are 3 very important people you must surround yourself with in order to help your business grow and make it successful: trendsetters, influencers and connectors. Why? Because these are the people who are going to believe in you, believe in what you are doing and will want to help you grow your business as ferociously as you do.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t something I learned yesterday. Or even 3 years back when I started my first business, the Smart Cookies. I learned this from my parents believe it or not. I watched how they connected with the people around them, how others influenced them both personally and professionally and how they nurtured those relationships to help them get to where they are today. Of course, not without offering the same in return. No, my parents are not celebrities, people in the media or savvy politicians. They are just your average people who have made a difference to others around them, have done the right things all their lives and succeeded in doing so. I admired that and I certainly took it to heart as I got older and became a businesswoman.
Throughout my career, I have been able to connect with some amazing people who have helped me get to where I am today (professionally speaking). Now that I am busy running 2 businesses, Smart Cookies and Bratface Marketing, I have come to learn how important these people are to me, my business and how key they are to my success in this fickle world.
In simple terms, here is how I define the difference between all three. You can agree with me or not, but mark my words, you will agree with at least some of what I have to say and I guarantee that you will be able to have 1 if not all 3 of these people in your life to some capacity.
Trendsetters – you probably have heard this term commonly used in the fashion industry. A ‘fashion trendsetter’ can be used to describe Patricia Field, Sarah Jessica Parker and Lady Gaga, but when it comes to business, trendsetters are the ones you want to watch out for, listen carefully to, ‘follow’ if you are an avid Twitter user and trust when it comes to their instincts. These people are the ones who are always on the cutting edge of business, politics, and social media – you name it. They can often be risky and stray from the ‘norm’ (but really, what is classified as normal anymore these days?) but will often take the most risks because they believe in something, and believe in what they are doing and more importantly, don’t care as much about other people’s opinions. Talk about standing by your convictions! Others don’t sway these people easily because they are truly authentic and are not afraid to fail (although, they rarely do). You have to get on the bandwagon early with these folks if you want to be cutting edge and be a part of the trend.
Influencers – these people are who I find to be some of the most important. I have been influenced my many people in my life from parents, grandparents, former employers to good friends. They inspire me and they can often inspire you to do the things you are scared of in life. Taking the leap of faith to quit your high paying job and start your own company; taking a year off to travel and experience the world while leaving behind your security. Whatever it is, influencers will be some of the most amazing people (and best storytellers) you will surround yourself with and if you really want to succeed in life or business, they are the ones that will take you to the next level. If you need a little push in the right direction, start making a list of the best people who can influence you to make that move.
Connectors – from a business perspective, these people will literally rock your world. Ok, well they did for me anyway! This is one lesson I learned fairly early on in life: the people, who are good at connecting you with people you should know, are the people you should befriend and get to know really well. Don’t be afraid to get out there and introduce yourself. Doesn’t matter if you know them or not. One of the best ways you can succeed in business and connect yourself with others is to put yourself out there. Plain and simple. It’s very important in business because as you grow and succeed (whether it be as an entrepreneur or not) these are the people who will connect you with other influencers or people they believe will help you get to that next level. They are the ones who believe in you and have confidence in introducing you to others. One important note I want to mention is to make sure you connect with people who are worth connecting with. Don’t waste your time meeting people just for the sake of meeting people and getting out there. You want to make an effort in finding the right people who have your best interest at heart and will have some sort of a positive influence to your bottom line.
A final note, I wanted to leave you with this interesting point of view. A close friend of mine sent this to me when I asked her opinion on this topic. I agree with her 100% because it nicely sums up what this whole article is about. What do you think? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts.
“The most important thing is to be seriously interested and curious about other people, believe that everyone has something of value to offer and that each one of us has qualities and/or talents that can assist someone else. Once you realize this it is easy to bring people together.” – Karen P.