if a person is one step away from each person he or she knows and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people he or she knows, then everyone is an average of six "steps" away from each person on Earth. Several studies, such as Milgram's small world experiment, have been conducted to empirically measure this connectedness. While the exact number of links between people differs depending on the population measured, it is generally found to be relatively small. (Reference)
I started thinking about this wondering if it is really true. So I came up with a scenario, I was wondering how I might get an audience with our sitting President. Who do I know that might be able to make that happen? As it turned out, I didn't have to look very far to make a connection. In fact, I only had to look as far as my father.
My dad and I work together. We are both in sales and he specializes in servicing the sharpening and cutting needs of different industries. One of those industries is the poultry industry.
Over the years, we've both built relationships with many of the higher-ups at the different poultry plants. One of my dad's best business friends is a fellow that worked right up along side one of the CEO's of one of the major poultry processors in Texas. Because this CEO is a Responsible American Businessman, he is involved in the political arena in his state. That means he knows George W. Bush. BINGO! A connection! And only 3 Degrees of Separation.
Now does that mean this ladder of contacts will get my an audience with President Bush? Maybe! It can't hurt to ask! But to be honest with all of you, while I think it would be fun to get to meet with the President, I'd rather meet the CEO. It's just a business thing and that drops the degrees to 2!
So what's the point? This shows me that there is at least some truth to the 6 Degrees of Separation. It also shows that your network has incredible potential! How are you treating that web of potential? How much value do you offer it? Who do you know you can refer to others?
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