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Six Degrees of Separation….You’re only as good as your network

Regardless of whether you think it a reasonable theory or just an urban myth, the hypothesis is an intriguing one. Everyone on the planet can be connected to anyone else through a chain of six people. Like any good theory, it eventually morphed from the sublime to the ridiculous, spawning the trivia game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. SDKB avers that through his or her film roles, any actor can be linked back to Kevin Bacon. Test the hypothesis for yourself next time you are killing time in the airport security line.

So, you’re thinking, other than bloating the holiday mailing list, “How does this benefit me?” We all know someone who seems to know everyone. That person is no different from the rest of us. We all know tons of people, but we just don’t know enough about them outside the frame of reference in which we place them.

For example, the person you know as coach of you daughter’s soccer team may also be the risk consultant you need for a project at work. Your neighbor’s sister may have the job opening you’re seeking. The dog walker’s brother may be opening a new gourmet restaurant. Or, a business associate may have great travel advice for your next vacation overseas.

Your network is your resource library. The stronger your network, the more qualified the resources at your fingertips to gain the information you seek in the shortest amount of time. Searching online or in the Yellow Pages gives you a listing, but it doesn’t give you a full picture. It can’t give you the experience, the color commentary, the nuance.

So how do you discover your “six degrees”?

Get in touch with your inner yenta. It never hurts to ask. We are all repositories of useful information that will never see the light of day if someone doesn’t ask for it. When you’re looking for something, ask everyone. Talk to people at the office, mention it to friends, chat up the person next to you on a plane. Whether you are looking for a new job, prospecting for new clients or even looking for a great new vacation spot, get the word out. As the cliché goes, it pays to advertise, and advertising is just telling a story. Good advertising gets the reader or listener involved and participating in the story.

Not only will you get some great insight, you gain links in your network. In turn, when someone needs your expertise, you gain another link. You become part of the most incredible resource library on the planet. Right now, you may be just six degrees from…who knows?  Kevin Bacon!

 (Check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_degrees_of_separation and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Degrees_of_Kevin_Bacon.)

Next Issue:

How do I Look? The value of professional photography

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