I stumbled into having a trust circle in 2012. I had built relationships with people through social media, through attending conferences, to wearing t-shirts for them, and felt a certain level of trust with them. When the idea for BuyMyLastName appeared in my crazy marketing brain in August 2012, I knew exactly who to share it with first.
Building a trust circle is not difficult. These people are, most likely, already in your life and helping you. I find it important to establish the relationship with them ahead of time and let these people know you’d like to be able to count on them for honest and speedy feedback.
My trust circle is only 12 people, and each person I sent a very simple email asking if they’d be okay if I bounced ideas off them whenever they come to me. No one said “No” because the trust was already built. If you do find that people say “No” when building your own trust circle, don’t harbor any ill-will toward them, just move on to the next person. Your trust circle can be as little as three or four people and as many as twenty.
I expect my trust circle to do these four very important things:
1. Respond quickly. This is honestly the most important thing for my trust circle. Sometimes you get an idea and want to move on it quickly. These people are an email or text message away and they always respond swiftly.
2. Give me brutally honest feedback. My mom and my grandmother are not in my trust circle (as silly as that sounds). This is because they love me to death and will support any crazy thing I come up with. I purposely don’t have close friends or family in my trust circle. I have business acquaintances that I trust and respect. I want them to say, “Jason, this idea sucks. What about this…?”
3. Be more than just yes/no people. While I want quick and honest feedback, I also want more from their feedback than just a “yes” or a “no.” Your trust circle shouldn’t be people who are going to pat you on the back. They should be people who are going to massage your back for hours (not literally, well, okay maybe).
4. They’re in different industries. The people in my trust circle are best selling authors, entrepreneurs, artists, marketing coordinators, fashion designers, bloggers, and more. I love that they’re all different, because they all offer a unique perspective. It’s also a plus when they all think an idea is awesome.
Notice I didn’t say anything about buying, sharing, or offering any type of fulfillment with my mentors or trust circle. Your trust circle is brainpower. It’s feedback. It’s a group that has a diverse set of experience from which you can learn. You won’t build your trust circle overnight, but you also don’t need twelve people either.
In all likelihood, you have three or four business acquaintances right now (even through friends of friends) who would be willing to help you. Also, and this is important, you don’t need to tell these people they’re in your “trust circle.” That might weird some folks out. Instead, just let them know you’d love to have them on call for feedback and thoughts on your business (or life).
And one last thing: these people shouldn’t expect anything from you in return. Remember, this group is built completely on trust for you.