How To Build Your Inner Circle

Art is HARD. Following your passion is all about getting down to it and doing the grunt work.

Having an inner circle – a close set of people who can give you feedback and appreciation –
helps immensely when you need that extra bit of motivation.

In this episode, I’ll share why your inner circle is important and how to start building on,
even if you are an introvert like me!

Listen to the episode below:


Transcript

Following your passion is all about getting down to it and doing the grunt work. Having an inner circle — a close set of people who can give you feedback and appreciation — helps immensely when you need that extra bit of motivation.

So today, I want to share how you can build your inner circle for immediate feedback and positive reinforcement.

I have a lot of respect for the creative process, how we are able to take what we have in our mind and bring it into the real world, sitting with our tools in our personal space, trying to capture the essence of what we’ve envisioned, the state of flow it generates when we get lost in what we are doing and so on.

Whatever your passion may be, I think this is something that is best done alone, cut off from everything, using our laser focus powers to delve deep.

But once something is ready, I think it’s very important and even healthy, to share it and see if people can feel what we want them to feel interacting with our creation.

I believe no matter what we do, there must be a feedback loop of some kind, something that tells us that we are getting somewhere. Even if we find out that we aren’t on the right track, it’s ok — as long as we have a way of knowing.

The first thing that comes to mind when I say share is to share something on the Internet — you know, Facebooks posts, Twitter tweets etc. However, if you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of followers, doing this just feels like shouting into an empty well — nothing of matter comes back to you.

This is where your inner circle comes into the picture. I do a lot of reading and that’s where I got this idea. In almost every book I’ve read, there are a few pages dedicated by the author to thank the people who’ve helped her in the journey.

These are generally family members, their publishers and friends that they know, love and respect. These are people who were the first readers — the people who gave the author their initial bit of feedback, appreciation and criticism.

Of course, one wouldn’t take all of their feedback to heart, but it’s a good way to get some new ideas or improve upon older ones when you hear other people’s opinion of your work.

I think that at least part of your happiness from following your passion also comes from the appreciation and approval people show for your work. It doesn’t have to be positive either, as long as someone spends enough time to take a look at your work, it’s all good — even if they don’t like it for whatever reason.

So you must focus on building this inner circle of friends and family, people who’ll really take the time to give you some honest feedback.

The way I’ve built this is to look at my network, and depending on what I am working on — my music, this podcast or something else — I’ve started to identify people whose opinion I’d appreciate myself.

And then I simply worked on the relationship.

This I did almost by intuition because to me, asking directly for feedback out of the blue seemed like a good way to turn anybody off.

One thing I made sure was to only talk to people I knew shared a common interest with me. I’ve seen it is easier for me to befriend someone who is interested in things I am interested in.

People who I share my music with are also people who share a common interest in finding new music and going deeper into what songs mean and so on.

People I share this podcast with are people who listen to podcasts regularly, talk with me about different podcasts they’re following and are open to new ideas too.

If you were a writer, you’d share your draft with someone who likes to read, possibly writes themselves and knows about you writing a book yourself.

It becomes so easy to share something you’ve created, confident that there are people who’ll see it, share their opinions and feedback and give you a real chance.

The sheer amount of reinforcement and belief that brings to you is phenomenal.

So what kind of people do you need in your Inner Circle?

I’ve talked about how I try to add people who I know share my interest with me. But even so, there are certain “personalities” you need.

I don’t think there’s a certain number of people you must have — I guess it’s somewhere around 5–6, or 10 if you can manage that big a crowd.

The first kind of person is the Fan

This is someone who has always known about you, hopefully admires you in some way, and would always be happy to get their hands on what you’ve created.

Pro tip here: an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend you are still positively friends with comes in very handy for this.

Or, it could be a childhood friend — they’ve known you the longest and so it is easier to send them something for that first “Yay!” comment.

The second kind of person is the Critic.

This could be anyone with an eye for finding out what’s missing. Of course, they don’t need to be a professional critic of your field to be doing this (though they could be), but it must be somebody you know would give their honest opinion and not hold back just because you’re friends.

My mom tends to play both those roles quite well, by the way.

The third kind of person is the Neutral person

This is somebody who you generally know but don’t share a passion with.

You simply know they would be able to say something about what you’re sending them and that’s the value they bring to the table. It could go either way — they may like what you’ve done or not at all, but they’ll let you know either way.

Now I’m not sure if you’re friends with such people already or you’ll have to start from scratch. I, for one, have never been good at communicating with people in the past, and I’ve started to change it.

My biggest problem tends to be that I never know what to talk about with someone, and how to go about it without coming across as needy — which is something that happens too often when you’re contacting someone online.

I found some great stuff on how to talk to people from Dan Wendler at Improve Your Social Skills, which has helped me immensely with this.

You can also check out my interview with Daniel

If you’re anything like me and find it challenging to keep conversations going, Dan has some great insights that you might be interested in.

Oh, and a weird thing that has started happening is that people who share these common interests with me are starting to kind of come out of the wood-works — my inner circle has started to connect me with new people through their extended network, which simply astounds me.

Build this inner circle now, even if you don’t have anything ready to show them. In fact, this is the best time to start building it, because when you are ready, your inner circle would be right there waiting for you.

Tap into your existing networks: your friends, your family, your classmates, simply anyone you’ve interacted with before. Say hello, and begin.

And if you don’t have someone around you who’d fit any of these roles (I really doubt that, though), find these people on Meetup.com or Facebook groups or Reddit and so on.

As long as you have the internet, you can connect with what I call “your people”.

I know this idea might scare you. You’re probably thinking “Ok, but I am an introvert, I’ve got zero social skills and there’s no way I can do this — it’s way outside my comfort zone.”

It’s ok, and perfectly normal to feel that. I feel a lot of us creative or passionate people are introverts, or at least leaning towards introversion on the introvert to extrovert gradient scale.

But, here’s something I’ve discovered as I’ve built my inner circle:

You don’t need to be a people’s person to talk to people. You just need to be a person.

And that’s how your build your inner circle: tap into your existing networks, find people who share common interests or old friendships and nurture that relationship.

Give your own opinion on things when they ask for it, and you get a chance to be heard when it’s your turn.


I’d love to hear your thoughts, insights and questions! Please leave a comment…

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