Has Social Media Shrunk The 6 Degrees Of Separation?

Let’s take LinkedIn. I was browsing around and I idly clicked on Tony Robbins, for those of you who don’t know, he is one of those stadium business gurus who packs them in and motivates, inspires, trains etc. He is a 3rd degree connection. So what does that actually mean?

The people directly connected to me have a number 1 against their profile. It means we have mutually accepted the option of being connected.

So, Tony Robbins is 2 degrees away from them as a third degree connection. That sounds pretty close. At least compared to the various texts on the topic which claim we are only 6 degrees away from anyone on the planet.

Now I practice word of mouth consultancy, in other words, attracting your ideal clients indirectly by having them find you through the experiences of others.

So could this knowledge be useful to me? Or could it be to you?

Even if I did want to do business with Tony Robbins, I am not certain that could be achieved easily. After all, not everyone I am connected to is a true connection. Let’s face it, many of us (those who haven’t are few!) have either accepted invitations from people we do not know because they intrigue us. Or the other way around perhaps. So the bonds between myself and a 3rd degree separated individual are loose.

But still, has social media shrunk the distance? And taken away a few of those steps? Because the counter argument is that it is feasible that if enough mutual connections share what we discuss, he may even notice whatever it is I am saying and get in touch.

But Wait – Even If It Hasn’t Shrunk, Have You Ever Tried Dreaming And Reaching Out?

This inter-connectedness thing is fascinating. I once suggested to a client, almost jokingly, that she asked the people she knew (via Facebook and a networking group) if they were connected to someone we didn’t know, but had plucked the name out of the air as a wild concept to play around with.

To be fair, we didn’t even know the name of the individual we needed to speak to, just the company name. It was actually a business sector she aspired to be active in but had no track record.

2 people responded. One on Facebook. One at a networking meeting she was attending. Both knew the exact person she needed to speak to.

A third responded and knew somebody in a similar aspirational sector and could introduce her. Cutting a long story short, she ended up delivering work in that sector where before she had no experience, no known connections, and to be frank, no idea if her particular brand of presentation skills training would translate.

Conclusion? Don’t rule out how inter-connected we all are. I suspect social media has strengthened that connectedness although some of the bonds are looser than the real-world connections that support the 6-degrees theory.

What does it mean for word of mouth? I suspect it’s okay once in a while to see and dream of doing business with your ideal client – asking those you know even in case they can connect you. And that connection may be much closer than you ever thought.

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