Six Degrees of Separation Theory

six degrees of separation theory people are connected
Connecting with the people you have always dreamed of

Have you ever dreamed about meeting your favorite author, actor, or activist? Well you can, and it may be simpler that you thought. You may have heard before that through just six connections you can know anybody in the world. In other words, through a friend of a friend times six, you could know Robert Downy Jr or Elon Musk or the Queen of England. This idea that you can be connected to anyone throughout the world is called the “Six Degrees of Separation Theory.”

The world is simultaneously extremely large, yet surprisingly small and reachable from this perspective. Everybody is connected through their network. The trick is finding the right connections to pursue in order to meet such an individual.

HISTORY OF THE SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION THEORY

In the 1960s Stanley Milgrama social psychologist, came up with a simple science experiment to see how many times an object would have to change hands in order to reach a chosen recipient. Milgram gave a few hundred people in Omaha, Nebraska a letter with instructions to give the letter, through a chain of their acquaintances, to someone in Boston, Massachusetts. According to an article by Thomas MacMillan, the first letter to reach its final recipient in Boston only took four days. An Omaha wheat farmer had given the letter to a minister, who then sent it to a colleague in Boston, who then delivered the letter to the specified destination. 

Although only a fraction of the original letters that Stanley Milgram sent out reached anyone in Boston, he concluded that on average, the letter only needed to change hands six times in order to reach anyone. Hence he called it the Six Degrees of Separation Theory. Since Stanley’s original experiment, the theory has been tested numerous times, including an experiment that Microsoft did in 2006 drawing from its user’s information that ended in the conclusion that the average number of connections that were needed is 6.6, not a far cry from the original six. Can you believe that it only takes an average of six connections in your social network to reach anyone in the world?

DEVELOPMENTS OF THE ORIGINAL THEORY

A fun play on the original theory that you may have heard of before is the Kevin Bacon Game. The Kevin Bacon Game was born when three students at the Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania were watching a Kevin Bacon movie on television, and it was followed by two more movies with Kevin Bacon in them. They then developed the game whose object is to connect any random actor or actress to Kevin Bacon through the movies that they have been in, in the fewest number of connections. 

Although the Kevin Bacon Game is purely for fun, it is a testament that we as humans love making connections. After all, social media platforms now display mutual friends when you are considering following someone on Instagram or sending a friend request on Facebook, you have likely followed someone you may not know personally, but did so because of your mutual connection. We know how much value our social networks carry.

THE THEORY AND MODERN NETWORKING

If a farmer in Nebraska can get a letter to a stranger in Boston almost sixty years ago, and do it in just four days, then the possibilities of networking with today’s technology are endless. Anybody with a social media account is searchable, and their contact information is often available, but these people may get thousands of emails a day, hundreds of texts, and dozens of pieces of fan mail. 

So, the challenge becomes separating yourself from the masses and making a memorable connection. This is where Circles comes in. Circles allows you to easily store key details on anyone in your life from family members to a potential investor in your company in an organized, searchable environment. 

Taking a genuine interest in someone and being able to recall information that is lesser known about them, but still important to their personal life will undoubtedly lead them to then take an interest in you, and what you have to offer. This is simple in theory, but remembering hundreds of birthdays, likes and dislikes, and key pieces of information, nonetheless following up on that information may feel like trying to teach monkeys to floss their teeth. With Circles you can conveniently store all this information, set reminders, and even gift directly through the app.  

A film called “Six Degrees of Separation” follows Paul Smith as he uses others’ connections for his own benefit. You will benefit from networking, but those you know can also benefit from your social circle.

HOW CIRCLES WILL ELEVATE YOUR ABILITY TO MAKE CONNECTIONS

Remembering bits of information on people in your life is essential to making, maintaining, and keeping those connections. For example, one of the most common pieces of advice given to job seekers is to send a follow up thank you note to your interviewer but remembering specific details about numerous potential employers and then remembering to send the “thank you” can be tricky. 

However, if you want to set yourself apart with Company XYZ then remembering to thank John Doe for his time and wishing him luck on his upcoming fishing trip to Alaska that he mentioned at the end of the interview may just get you the job. The same goes for any sort of potential personal connection. Think of the last time that someone send you a meaningful text, a handwritten note, or a useful gift. How did you feel, and did your connection with that person grow because of that interaction?

We live in the age of quick convenience, and the art of personalized, non-automated communication is dying, but Circles will allow you to recall the details or factoids that you need to make those six key connections to meet anybody you can dream up. So, the next time you think “I wish I could know _____________,” open the Circles app and get started with making the first connection that may change your life.