6 degrees of proximity: it’s a small world

November 25, 2005

Remember the last time you were on vacation and that you met some of your compatriots. Ten to one you discovered in your conversation that you had a common contact. And this happens a lot on holidays, even more than in “normal” daily live. Why is this?

The first reason is that it IS a small world and the second that you took the time to explore the different ways you are related to each other.

On holidays we are more relaxed. And we are more open and more patient to listen. And moreover, since we don’t know the people we just met yet, we are still open and ready to explore ALL different areas of life.

When we meet other people in daily life it is almost always in a specific environment: colleagues at the office, business contacts at networking events, family at birthday parties,… In these environments we have a common interest that is already established, just by the nature of this context. That’s the reason why we tend to limit our information exchange and search for more common ground to (the topics of) this specific environment. Once we talked to people, we have put them in one or more categories in our minds (and/or in our databases). This is very normal behaviour. This is necessary for us to cope with all the information that we are bombarded with on a continuous basis. The disadvantage is that we only know snippets of people’s lives and miss lots of opportunities or interesting conversations. We also tend to talk about the subjects we already know this person is interested in. But everything changes, including us and all people from our network. And in an ever increasing pace.

Because we are only capable of knowing “parts” of other people, we are still surprised when we find out that we have something in common with someone. “It’s a small world” you hear from time to time (and this becomes a daily standard phrase when you become a real networker). And when two people discover that it is a small world indeed, you feel the atmosphere change. Suddenly there is more room for a relaxed posture, fun and trust.

In reality we indeed live in a small world. We are connected to anyone, ANYONE, on this planet via 6 people. This phenomenon is called the “6 degrees of separation”. In this network era where people are reconnecting, I’d like to change this name into “6 degrees of proximity”. If you can contact anyone on this earth via maximum 6 steps, then you are close and related to each other, instead of separated, don’t you agree?

Jan

PS: this is an excerpt from my upcoming book “Let’s Connect!”. Pre-register at www.letsconnect.be

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50 words

November 11, 2005

One of the things we try to do when we meet new people is to find common ground.

This is not always easy. Especially if the person you are talking to is not so at ease with talking to strangers.

One of the things you could do is turn things around: offer them some topics where you are interested in and have them choose what to talk about.

This sounds a little artificial and unusual, but it works!

An example of this concept are the 50 words in the profiles of the members of the online networking website Ecademy. You can browse through some profiles to see what I mean. You can start for example with mine and then look at the profiles of the people from my network.

This concept can also be applied to your business card. Just write your 50 words (or 30 in my case) on the back. You will experience that you have more things in common with strangers than you originally thought or at least have something to talk about!

Have a great networking day!

Jan


Stand on the shoulders of giants

November 6, 2005

Yesterday evening I was listening to a Brian Tracy CD in my car. I heard something I wanted to share with you. Brian said some very wise words that are applicable to networking:

“A dwarf that stands on the shoulders of a giant sees further than the giant.”

Brian was talking about learning from experts. And also learning from books, CD’s, presentations and anything else that cost somebody else 10 or more years to find out and that you can learn in a few hours. It’s about leveraging the knowledge of others.

I want to add to this: also stand on the shoulders of others in your network and let others stand on your shoulders. Leverage each others network to get to the people you’re looking for. And form permanent or temporary teams with experts.

And if you do stand on the shoulders of these giants and make them requests, don’t forget the two other angles of the golden triangle of networking: thank them and offer them your own “shoulders”.

Have a great networking day !

Jan


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