When I was a child, my parents always tried to persuade me to enter the hardest of schools, the most difficult of classes, and the toughest of teams. Whenever I respond with – “No, mom, I can’t do that;” or “Dad, they’ll never accept me; I’m not smart enough!” – they would say “Oh, don’t worry, Son. We’ll write them a letter.” To this day I’m not quite sure if the positions and chances I was denied were due to an extreme lack of a particular skill set on my part, or if the people who were supposed the read those letters even saw them. That thought has always been at the back of my head and for some time it accounted for a huge amount of insecurity on my part. When I started my own small business – a restaurant specializing in tea and coffee – and tried to reach out to people using link building, sharing on social media, newsletters, etc., I was afraid my work ended up in spam folders or otherwise remained unread. And then I heard about this interesting little strategy from a friend. It’s called “Circle of Leverage” (COL), a technique first put forward by Michael A. Boylan. What is Circle of Leverage? Simply stated, it requires you to identify a key executive prospect as well as 2-4 of their closest business relations and informing them that you have reached out to all of them. By doing this, you’ll get more people talking about you or your business and perhaps getting your initial key prospect to agree with whatever you were asking for. It didn’t seem like I had much to lose with this strategy, so I tried it. Within two weeks of sending out those first e-mails, I was surprised to find that I was getting more responses to my business offers, and I even booked three probable school gigs for the next two months! Traffic to my pages also increased. Other pages and other users were linking to my page, and those shares generate leads automatically. Whoever knew this marketing strategy would turn out these rewards? The idea behind Circle of Leverage is fairly simple, but it can be challenging and it requires thorough research. At the end of the day, however, the gains far outweigh the costs and you’ll be glad you tried it out. There are three steps into making this dream a reality. Step #1: Identify Your Prospects Step #1 is the biggest, the longest, and possibly the most important step in Circle of Leverage. Of course you’d want to talk to the boss, but if you reach too high, you’ll get the cold shoulder, and if you reach too low, the person may not even have the power to decide on whatever you’re proposing. Then, once you’ve identified who you’re aiming for, it takes a good amount of research to piece out the most important members for the rest of the circle. I recently read an article from the New York Times entitled “A Bad Review is Forever: How to Counter Online Complaints.” The gist of the article is to make the most of those reviews – that you should respond to them quickly and show your sincerity rather than be defensive or stay silent in your insecurity. Listen to the reviewers’ complaints, see if you can do anything about it, then try to win those reviewers to your side. Turning a bad review into a good one can actually instill loyalty in that customer. You can bring this strategy a step further by using the Circle of Leverage. Now, it may seem harder to find the most important contacts around an online reviewer. Obviously, the structure won’t be as familiar as the structure of a business contact, some imagination and analytical skills would come in handy here. Check out those reviewers’ online footprint. Check out their sites, social media, blogs, or whatever else they link to their account. Find out which pages they visit most often, find out who they follow, who follows them, who they reply to. They will be your circle. If your aim isn’t really to respond to reviews but to just generate leads in the traditional sense, then this step becomes easier. Once you’ve identified your prospect, identify his/her immediate supervisor, key colleagues, and/or top assistant. Once you have your prospect and the key contacts around them, it is time to craft your letter. Step #2: Create Your Letter Entrepreneur on Fire creator, John Lee Dumas, once said “Create something that is everything.” Your letter must be something like this. It must be concise enough that your prospects won’t tire of reading it right away, but it should contain everything that can turn them from a stranger or mere acquaintance into a business partner. Check out the sample letter below. (Sample letter from http://www.eyesonsales.com/content/article/your_sales_leverage/ ) However, be careful not to include anything else in your letter. If you provide too much information, your prospect may think that the letter is enough and that transacting with you would no longer be necessary. If, on the other hand, you’re responding to a review, you could invite them to try out your restaurant or other product/s with a bait – perhaps in the form of a discount coupon, or a freebie. Here’s a sample: Step #3: Follow-Up Give your prospects a few days to see your message before following up. As in the letter, be careful that you don’t give too much information during the follow-up call. Your prospect or their secretary may try to interrogate you so that they can escape having a transaction. You will be pleasantly surprised to find that after applying your Circle of Leverage, the number of people who would accept your call or offer would increase. It won’t necessarily be the key prospect you’d like, but you could be referred to someone high enough in the business to make a favorable decision on your pitch. Circle of Leverage practically assures growth hacking success for entrepreneurs, especially if you’ve done your research correctly. Let me give you a quote from the great Michael Dumas: “Making meaningful progress toward the things that matter most is more than possible. It’s probable, if you know how.” Now you have another secret unlocked and a whole new world to discover and network. Now you can progress even further towards your ultimate dream for your small business. I’ve personally tried it on my own business and saw growth within two weeks. The same success could be yours. Let’s share each other’s success as we work for a better world. Images: ”3d people – man, person in circle and pieces of puzzle ( jigsaw ) /Shutterstock.com“ ______________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. Today, it is part of the Small Biz Trends stable of websites and receives over 300,000 unique views per month. Would you like to write for us? An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.