Here is something you may not already know. The theory of six degrees of separation was proposed in 1929 by a Hungarian writer. It suggests that we are all connected to any one other person in the entire world by a chain of people we know, with at least five people in between the string. Let’s explore this possibility to see how you might know every celebrity, with at least five intermediaries.
Example: You have a neighbor who is originally from Canada. (That’s #1) His family owns a sign company and his mother (#2) is friends with another woman from her book club (#3). The third woman is a teacher at the university. One of her fellow professors (#4) was a childhood friend of Pamela Anderson, the famous actress (#5). That’s five people between you and Pamela Anderson. You are #6, or #1, depending on whether you look at it from the front to the back or vice versa.
Although this is just one hypothetical example, among thousands that could be presented, the theory is certainly fascinating. We can never truly know if we have five people in between knowing someone famous, unless we dig deeper to explore the possibilities. In fact, living within an era of technology and social media, it could be feasible that our degree of separation is now fewer than six.
Leverage Connections by Identifying Common Friends
With the tools in place on many of the big social networks, apps and communities online, people now have more power than ever to meet someone that could be professionally advantageous. There is a “People You Might Know” box on LinkedIn; or “You Might Also Want to Follow” call-box on Twitter. These tools help to identify common friends, while decreasing the six degrees of separation between them. Spotting people with whom you share like-minded hobbies, talents, or skills can greatly enhance your connections and your career.
However, just knowing someone isn’t really enough to seal the chances of them recommending you. You must leverage those connections by reaching out to them and interacting with them. Give a shout or a write a personal note to someone, especially if you are looking for a specific action. For example, let’s say you have a friend (of a friend) who works for an auto dealership. You happen to be looking for a new car. Rather than driving around town on random car lots, you could reach out to that person and say something like, “I see we both have a mutual friend named Mitch who sells cars. I am looking for a certain type of automobile, can you help me out with an introduction?”
This strategy can also work to get referrals or to forge new friendships. Reinforcing relationships with your existing connections can only make them stronger. People like to do business with someone they know and like. By communicating and reaching out to them, you are initiating friendship. You will no longer be strangers. These can only lead to more opportunities, job offers, reviews, or whatever you need to strengthen your own business. Networking is critical for building professional connections and for eventually getting better jobs.
How to Increase Your Power of Six Degrees
One tip to apply the six degrees of separation to your advantage is to be willing to give back. If you are asking to be introduced to a prospective employer, you should offer something in return. A lot of authors share reviews with each other to help build credibility on their work. A lot of business people share ideas or connections with each other to make introductions less awkward. The power of six is more influential than ever because of so many online opportunities. The ideas are far-reaching and plentiful. However, make sure your requests are not always one-sided.
On that note, when you offer to help someone you meet, it is best not to expect anything in return. Instead, you can continue helping others. If everybody helped each other without any expectations, it would lead to many unselfish benefits. But do not be afraid to ask when you see someone in your network that might be able to help you, too.
At its very essence, these social media opportunities and communities are there to build relationships, rapport and to help people from around the globe to connect with each other in kindred spirit and camaraderie.