Have you heard about the concept of six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon? Yes, it is a FACT. Its an interesting FACT in that Kevin has never been nominated for an Oscar, yet he is well known throughout the entertainment industry and to most of you reading this article. Kevin has a unique connection with actors across many different types of entertainment, and can be linked to anyone who has ever acted (estimated to be a quarter million actors) on an average in under three steps.
John Wayne is well known, but doesnt even come close to Kevins six degrees of separation community. What is the underlying factor in Johns lower position on the list? John specialized in western movies, so he had a narrower network even after his 60-year career in movies.
The actor who comes out as number one on the six degrees of separation list in the entertainment industry and recognized as the best connected actor is Rod Steiger. Rod moved across all different types of acting, specialized in different types of niches and was connected in many different subcultures.
From The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, pages 47-49.
We can learn a lot from Rod Steiger, Kevin Bacon, and John Wayne about building our own six degrees of separation community and having a rich and reciprocal community to leverage each others talents.
It all starts with making more connections through net-weaving and being intentionally strategic in your service to others.
Many of my clients know that building relationships is a valuable and critical factor in sustaining a successful career, particularly in todays dynamic business world. However, it also means NETWORKING! Its a dreaded word to many because it brings up the awkwardness of having to walk into a large room with many people who dont know you, making small talk, and then asking for their business card, information or a referral.
However, others love to meet new people, so networking to them is fun because they focus on learning about the other person.
When you net-weave intentionally and with focus, you easily become a strategic connector.
What is Net-Weaving . . . the New Networking?
Net-weaving is based on the principle of reciprocity and the practice of intentionally and consistently making strategic connections.
Net-weaving is the consistent practice of making connections between those you meet and business, social, and personal opportunities that you feel would be a good fit for the other persons needs.
Its about having a natural curiosity about how you can be of service to others and offering reciprocal value in all your relationships whether its a casual conversation or a high-powered business transaction.
Reciprocal is defined as virtually uninhibited sharing or giving. It occurs when one person shares goods or labor with another person without expecting anything in return. What makes this interaction reciprocal is the sense of satisfaction the giver feels and the social closeness that the gift fosters. (Wikipedia) There exists a natural give and receive between two parties.
For example, when I visited a former colleague, Laurie*, in her new store I discovered that my chiropractor, Karen*, would be an ideal customer for Laurie since her children are competitive swimmers. As soon as I left Lauries store, I called Karen to tell her about Lauries store, featuring fashion and competitive swimwear, and encouraged her to visit Laurie!
Karen would benefit from shopping in Lauries store, and Laurie would benefit from a new customer. They would both benefit from making each others acquaintance, and have fun in the process. The value and fun that I experienced was making the connection between two people who I felt would offer reciprocal value to each other.
* Laurie Aylward, The Foggy Goggle, Malvern, PA
* Karen Lewis, Gentle Touch Chiropractic, West Chester, PA
Being a Strategic Connector Increase Your Luck Factor!
The actors who are at the top of the six degrees of separation list are strategic connectors and display qualities that are available to everyone authentic curiosity about other people, self-confidence and sociability, and positive energy. According to Gladwell, Connectors are people whom all of us can reach in only a few steps because, for one reason or another, they manage to occupy many different worlds, niches, and subcultures.
Ok, youre saying . . . so weve heard about Kevin Bacon, the six degrees of separation, net-weaving, reciprocal value, and strategic connectors
how does this help me to sustain my career success?
Do you know anyone who always seems to be ahead of organization change and experiences a lot of luck?
Before a reorganization or change in business direction is announced, they have already landed a great new job, and most likely, an increased compensation package. These people are most likely strategic connectors!
There are many organization changes in our dynamic business world, yet people often wait until there is a crisis to act on their instincts. They see impending workforce reductions, and hope that they arent impacted. They havent been happy in their job for a long time
much longer than they care to admit, and struggle through another year with the justification that their current position / company is familiar and they wouldnt have the flexibility, vacation, or compensation that they have in their current position.
Then, the job search cycle it seems long and overwhelming!
Lets look at real scenarios about a few people who are strategic connectors and have consistently added value by their friendship, support, and keeping in touch with the many people in their network. Its about who they are and their high value in relationships.
Client Scenario #1: The Client decided that his current position didn't align with his values. Although he was a consistent top performer, he was continually frustrated and stressed about what was expected of him, and he didn't feel that he was performing even close to his best. Once he decided to make a change, he contacted trusted advisors in his network, asked for their feedback about his situation, synthesized the information, and was able to quickly target companies that would be a good fit for his abilities. He landed an ideal job within 3 months with over 25% increase in base salary!
Client Scenario #2: This Client won a number of awards for her exceptional leadership and business acumen that resulted in high profitability for her organization. However, her job was challenged because of a change in company leadership and ownership. Twice, she landed new promotional positions at least one month before organization changes would have impacted her job. She read the signs of change, contacted her trusted advisors in different companies, and discovered opportunities in the hidden job market.
Both people had the courage and foresight to read the signs, and trust their instincts. They are also very generous people who enjoy keeping in touch with people with whom they have built relationships over many years.
Would you say that they are lucky or strategic connectors who have sustained their career success because they are recognized for who they are and people know what they stand for?
We refer to this as their unique genius that is reflected in an authentic and credible personal brand.
Our next edition of Success Matters will focus on the steps to becoming a more masterful strategic connector!