How do you see your life… are there still six degrees of separation?

I don’t know about you but I am both, intrigued, sometimes amazed and often amused by the interconnectedness of people that I meet, have met or am about to meet.

Referrals are a great way of doing business and being a regular and (so I’m told consummate) networker I’m regularly referring people and also connecting people. “You should meet, do you know…. Oh, really then I’ll do an introduction email…”

But it’s the number of people who are connected with other people I know that always surprises me… the other day I was chatting to Sophie Bennett an ace business mentor and author who was talking about a friend of hers and I knew straight away who that was; l someone I’ve known for years and have even discussed running a joint venture with them. And then I wished someone happy birthday on Facebook and received an email saying how on earth do you know…

Of course we are going to find there are lots of people in common when looking at Facebook and social media because we will be friends with people who are similar to us or have similar interests to us… but it’s the people who are don’t appear to have anything in common that surprises me…

The thing is from those connections great things can happen. Because of who they know and it’s usually more effective than relying on LinkedIn alone. Your connections that you meet offline or the ones you know through Facebook who know you personally as well as professionally can, from experience, be some of the strongest and most valuable connections.

There used to be the game of 6 degrees of separation between you and an A list Hollywood actor; now with social media it’s more like 3 or 4 and so it is when it comes to connections for business but the thing is what’s the quality and depth of those connections. Don’t approach someone that you’ve never had a conversation with asking them to connect you with a third person; why would they make a personal introduction when they don’t know you?

And if you see an unexpected connection don’t just smile and wonder how did that happen, how on earth do they know each other…? Contact both people and have a conversation with them. As Sophie would say ‘pick up the phone…’ don’t just email or message. It may open up conversations that wouldn’t take place if you didn’t know those connections have happened, it might open even more doors and opportunities including potential JVs and collaborations.

And don’t forget that it’s a two way process… don’t think about it as ‘what’s in it for me’ but ‘what can I do for them’. Shifting your focus to that is far more powerful and people recognise it and have far greater respect than for those who are asking for connections without reciprocating… reciprocity maybe an overused word in the States but it really does have value.

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