Being a female freelancer, a budding business owner, a seasoned solopreneur, a conscious creative or an intentional impact-maker can be a lonely endeavour.
Just ask any one of the 41 million people across the globe who’ve chosen to do ‘business unusual’ to find more fulfillment beyond the usual 9-5, clock-in, clock-out daily grind.
We’re a growing nation of intrepid entrepreneurs, and yet I’ve heard so many women in my network and beyond exclaim how lonely this journey can be.
Connecting in the Academy
This of course is exactly why the Academy exists and why we host our monthly coffee meetups so that women can realise that they’re not actually alone, and that it’s easy to connect with others when you start to step out of your daily routine and environment.
The Origins of 6 Degrees of Separation
The concept was apparently first mentioned back in the 1920, but made more popular after a social experiment was conducted in the 1960’s.
50 years ago a social study was conducted that proved how closely we are all connected – and this was in a time before social networks and instant messages. Brown envelopes containing instructions for the next recipient was sent in the post to several experiment volunteers. An individual had been identified as the intended final recipient but was apparently unconnected to any of the initial recipients of the envelopes. A wheat farmer duly followed the instructions and eventually the envelope was hand delivered to the intended recipient after exchanging hands with less than 6 different people who seemed otherwise unconnected.
This became known as the ‘small world experiment’.
According to an article on The Cut “…in 2011, a study by Facebook found that its users were separated by an average of 4.57 degrees.”
The advent of the internet and social media has obviously brought the degrees of separation together, which according to Duncan Watts, a mathematician and network theorist, is both a good thing and a bad thing…
“We care about our friends, and we kind of care about our friends’ friends, but “anything more than two degrees is just some random person,” he said.” He says “We’re not aware that the actions we take are rippling outward with a kind of frightening velocity.”
This then highlights to me the importance of us being aware of the impact we’re having, and using that impact for good. Being aware of how connected we all really are has the power to affect our behaviours and our choices.
6 Degrees of Separation for Solopreneurs
This theory of networking is essentially what sparked the advent of the World Wide Web.
Now we as solopreneurs literally have an entire world at our fingertips, but many of us are not using it to it’s fullest potential.
If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ll have heard the saying…
“It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know.”
Well now, you practically have a direct line to anyone, anywhere in the world, and LinkedIn as the oldest social network having launched back in 2002, has made it easier than ever to see who our mutual connections are to get that all important introduction to that CEO or that Founder or that influencer who may be the missing link in your business success journey and/or circle of influence. LinkedIn notifies users how many connections, either by 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree they have, as well as any other user they have in common
What’s fun and interesting about this connectivity, is that with a simple perspective shift, the world is literally our oyster. Ever played the Bacon game? This game was popularised by Google when in 2012 they added the ability to check any actor or actress’s Bacon score – the degrees of separation between the actor and Kevin Bacon based on whether they’ve worked on the same production.
6 Degrees of Separation Action Step:
So if we were to leverage these 6 degrees (or less) of separation for the purposes of building our businesses, it might look like this…
1. Clarify who you want to connect with
Who would you LOVE to get an introduction to?
Who has the knowledge, experience and/or network that could open doors for your business?
2. Put it out there
Start telling your friends about what you do in your business. Many of us drop our entrepreneur hat when we’re in a social setting with friends because our friends don’t really know us in that context. But we’re missing a gold opportunity here – you never know who they might be able to mention you to! But if they don’t know what you do, your name won’t come up in those all important conversations.
I’ve always maintained this about the power of in-person networking – you never know who knows who in the room. Many women over the years have complained to me that attending networking events doesn’t work, but the truth is, it may not be the people in the room that hold the golden nugget you’re after, but rather the people they know outside of that room.
3. Ask for an introduction
Once you have an idea about who you’d like to make contact with, put it out there, ask your immediate network, or better yet, log on to LinkedIn and see who you have in common – it’s handy like that!
Of course, this is a numbers game, so the more people you’re connected to, the higher your chance of having a common acquaintance. Ask to be introduced (and while you’re at it, ask if there’s anyone you can introduce the introducer to).
4. Add Value
It goes without saying that your approach should be valuable and strategic rather than being pushy and salesy. Don’t just think about what you can gain from the connection, but how can that person benefit from knowing you too?
Platforms like LinkedIn make it so much easier to get that introduction and also do the research to find out what value you can add to anyone you get introduced to, which is exactly what our guest expert this month is teaching us inside the Academy.
LinkedIn Mastery Masterclass
Licia Dewing is a Career Strategist and she says “I once found myself in a corporate career that I didn’t know how to get out of. I needed to CAREER STRATEGIZE, myself back to PURPOSE and my PASSION.
Now, my work has me falling in love with what I do every day.”
After years in the recruitment industry, after a chosen career sabbatical, Licia recognized that she had lost her own ‘career passion’ and had developed a growing awareness of her constant frustration that she could only help one person: she was in the wrong career.
With a focus and a clear understanding to create positive change in people’s careers, Licia career strategized herself and arrived at a space where she was clearly able to create the Career Strategist profile. With the unique perspective of having been on all sides of the proverbial recruiting table, her innovative strategies are widely seen as positively disruptive to the traditional recruitment world, and ground breaking and supportive to mid-level – senior executives wanting to change careers.
As the saying goes –
“you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”
Are you surrounding yourself with the kinds of people you want to be like? If not, it’s time to connect with them, in 6 steps or less…