Why and How to Reduce the Degrees of Separation
Last evening I had the honor of interviewing Jill Rowley for my It’s Time to Sell Podcast. It was an enlightening experience. In one segment of the interview, we talked about how the six degrees of separation have been reduced to three and maybe even two in the connected economy in which we now live.
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I’ve been thinking about the discussion ever since, and I would argue that the six degrees of separation have not actually decreased. They can be reduced in this connected economy, but for that to happen you must embrace change.
In this article, I will disclose a key piece to the puzzle.
First, however, I would like to suggest why it is important to reduce the degrees of separation: to compete and ultimately survive!
If you spend just ten minutes on social networks, you will see evidence of your competition reducing the degrees of separation. Your competition is on LinkedIn, for example, reading (the equivalent of listening), putting themselves out there (being curious), and curating content (educating) as means of attracting inbound opportunities. They are generating conversations, and then taking those conversations offline and nurturing them. Eventually the conversations lead to further online or offline introductions, and your competitors’ networks of connections are growing. So, if you are still asking the question Why?, I suggest you ask a different question—How?
Spend ten minutes on social networks, you will see your competition reducing the degrees of separation - Click to Tweet
To demonstrate the power of social networks, I’ll give you an example from my own experience:
About a year ago I decided to learn more about social selling. I had been using social selling as a means of growing our business for quite some time. I actually thought I had invented the word. But when I tried to register the domain name, I quickly found out I had not. In Googling the term I came upon Jill Rowley’s profile on LinkedIn. I could see that she was doing a ton of work in the field. She was generating conversation and a following. So, I decided to reach out to her. I sent her a personalized LinkedIn invite in which I referenced our common interest in social selling. She accepted the invite, and we began a conversation. I quickly learned that she had actually been born in Newfoundland, although she had only spent a few months here. I noticed that we had a mutual connection, Chris Heffer. Chris is a great guy, located in the United Kingdom, who is also waiving the social selling flag in his everyday life. Chris became a focal point of my ongoing conversation with Jill. We had found a common connection that deepened the conversation.
When I reached out to Jill a few weeks back, in preparation for my podcast, she was more than willing to support it by coming on the show to talk about social selling. At the end of our discussion, she suggested that I talk with her partner who is in the same line of business as I am—professional services. We have since been introduced, and the wonderful cycle continues.
So, what is the key piece of the puzzle for reducing the degrees of separation?
You need to put yourself out there. You must begin to find common links between you and the people you would like to get to know—clients, future clients, partners, brand ambassadors, and so on.
This approach does not apply only to sales professionals. It applies to large-business and small-business entrepreneurs, consultants, coaches, doctors, lawyers, and anyone else who has a client base to serve.
I have not found a better place to do this than LinkedIn. LinkedIn is much more than a place to advertise your resume. It is a marketplace for professional connections and growth.
How can you get started with social selling on LinkedIn? Start small. Spend fifteen minutes each day reading articles about your area of expertise. Listen. Begin to comment on the articles, initially by simply expressing curiosity and asking questions. Those comments will begin to build conversations. Use those conversations as foundations to initiate connection requests (invites). Eventually, take those connection requests offline to phone or Skype calls. Find common areas of interest. Grow business together.
For people who want to live on the bleeding edge, it is six degrees of separation no longer.
What are you going to do today to make sure you and your business are relevant next year and the year after that?
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