## Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and Six Degrees of Separationstring(55) "Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and Six Degrees of Separation"

I am pleased to announce that my new book, The 29% Solution, 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies has just been released! Below is an excerpt from the book.

What do Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and “six degrees of separation” all have in common? They are all urban legends! I wouldn’t do an expose on Kris Kringle or the egg-laying rabbit. I don’t want to stir up any trouble. What I do want to take issue with is the six-degrees thing.

You’ve heard that there are “six degrees of separation” between you and anybody else on earth that you would like to meet. Right? Amazing, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s just not true! I know, I know–you’re thinking, “What? That can’t be! It’s common knowledge that we are all separated by six connections to anyone in the world.” Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but the idea that we are all connected through six degrees of separation is rooted in myth–not in fact.

The legend originally stems from several “small world experiments” conducted by Stanley Milgram in the 1960s and ’70s. These experiments involved sending folders or letters from a group of people in one part of the country to a specific person (whom they did not know) in another part of the country. The people were told to get the material to someone who might know someone who would know the individual to whom the material was to be delivered. This process formed a chain of connections linking the people together. It was, in fact, found that the letters or folders that eventually arrived in the right person’s hands took, on average, between five and six connections or degrees. This part is true; however, if you look closer, you will discover the problems that exist within the blanket statement that “we are all connected by six degrees.”

First off, though the average number of links for people who got the material through to the final contact was five or six connections, the majority of the connections that were made ranged from two to 10 (the average was five to six). This means that roughly half took more than six and roughly half less than six. Well, you say, that’s the average and I would agree that there’s nothing wrong with addressing this concept by the average, but there’s one small problem. The overwhelming majority of people in all of Milgram’s studies never got the material to the intended recipient at all! In Milgram’s most successful study, “217 chains were started and 64 were completed–a success rate of only 29 percent.” That’s right–a success rate of less than one-third of the participants! So what this means is that 29 percent of the people in Milgram’s most successful study were separated on average by six degrees from the final contact person. However, that means that 71 percent were not connected at all!

But wait, I’m afraid it gets worse. This was Milgram’s most successful study. In another of his studies, only 5 percent of the participants completed the chain, which means that 95 percent of the people in the study never made the link to the person they were supposed to connect to at all–ever! Don’t shoot the messenger, but I am afraid to tell you that we are not “all” connected with everyone in the world by six degrees of separation. We’re just not . . . not all of us.

So why would I, someone who has devoted most of his professional career to business networking, be telling everyone about the Achilles heel of this iconic concept upon which a lot of networking pros hang their hat? Well, there are two reasons. First of all, I believe this myth creates complacency. The thought that everyone is absolutely connected to everyone else on the planet by six degrees gives some people a false sense of expectation and thus lulls them into a sense that the connection is bound to happen sooner or later, no matter what they do. Second, and most important, the studies’ findings indicate clearly that some people are better connected than others. I believe that’s important because it means that this is a skill that can be acquired. With reading, training and coaching, people can develop their networking skills, increase their connections and become part of the roughly 29 percent of people who are, in fact, separated from the rest of the world by only six degrees.

Milgram’s work was revolutionary. It opened up a whole new world of discussion and understanding. It has, however, been romanticized. The mythical version of his findings does no good for anyone. It gives people a false sense of security or an erroneous world view of the networking process. I believe we do live in a “small world” that is becoming smaller and smaller; and I also believe it is possible to be connected to anyone in the world by only six degrees. I just don’t believe that “we are all” connected by six degrees, and Milgram’s own findings support that.

The good news in all of this is that it is possible to be part of the 29 percent through education, practice and training. We can be connected to anyone through the power and potential of networking. In fact, by understanding that, we can set ourselves aside from our competition by knowing that being able to make successful connections is not an entitlement. Instead, it is a skill that only some actually develop. As for the 71 percent of people who are not connected and yet still believe in the six degrees of separation concept–keep the faith. You’ll always have Santa Claus.

Books are now available at your local bookstore or from Amazon.com. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the book and/or the general concept.

## The Power of Authoringstring(22) "The Power of Authoring"

Building credibility and recognition are two important pieces of the networking process that definitely help grow your network and your business. Becoming an author is a technique that has worked well to develop personal and professional credibility for many people I know. Authoring is an extremely powerful advertising and branding tool, because with each article and/or book you write, you are building brand recognition for you and your business.

As an example of how powerful it is to be labeled an author, just look at the way the media reacts to it. Let’s say you approach the media and ask them to interview you about your business. Nine times out of 10, they’ll tell you to take out an ad; but, over and over again, I’ve seen them interview anyone with a book!

If you’ve written articles or a book or you have something in the works and you don’t know how to get it in the public eye, I highly recommend a website called PromoteABook.com to help you with this process. There is some great content there for authors and budding authors.

## Get Published Without the Hasslestring(32) "Get Published Without the Hassle"

I’ve always said that writing books and articles is a great way to help establish visibility and credibility in your networking efforts. Fortunately, it’s just gotten easier to “distribute” what you’ve written.

I recently had an opportunity to spend the day “telling stories” with an old friend, Mark Victor Hansen (co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series). It had been a long time since we had spoken, and we did a little reminiscing about our past experiences.

We also talked about our recent projects. Mark spoke about his goal to help people share their books and articles with the world. As a result of that effort, he helped create YouPublish.com, a website that enables anyone to publish his or her books or articles online. (Mark’s wearing a YouPublish.com hat in the photo, in case you wondered why he’s pointing to his head.) The great thing about the site is that you can produce and release new works quickly, distribute your library of unpublished works, expand your readership base and get introduced to international markets.

The website allows you either to distribute your material for free or to charge for the content if you wish. It’s up to you. YouPublish handles all the administration, which makes for a user-friendly and hassle-free site. I’m really impressed with YouPublish, and I think it provides a much-needed, extremely useful service. Since talking to Mark about the site, I’ve personally uploaded a number of my books and articles for distribution via this digital format at YouPublish.com/Networking.

Take a look. There’s no upfront cost, and the site offers a great service. Check it out and let me know what you think.

## The Word of Mouth Manualstring(24) "The Word of Mouth Manual"

I just ran across a good e-book on word of mouth that I definitely think is worth a read. The book is called the Word of Mouth Manual by Dave Balter and is available free as a downloadable here. You can also buy a hardcopy version of the book from Amazon.

The process of word-of-mouth marketing and networking are, in many ways, inextricably tied. I teach people how to network to build visibility and credibility in order to generate referrals (word of mouth). Although this book doesn’t really talk about networking, it thoroughly covers the process of word of mouth, primarily from an advertising and marketing perspective. However, it offers several valuable insights for both networking and word of mouth.

Here are a few key points from the book:

• There is a growing emergence of the “shared collective experience.” People love to share their experiences–good, bad, and otherwise.

• What is a word-of-mouth conversation actually worth monetarily? One study says it’s “worth 1,000 times more than a standard ad impression” (arguably a high estimate). Dave offers a formula on page 33 that is worth consideration.

• “From the outside, word of mouth seems like an awfully easy channel to tap into . . . But the reality is that the power of the medium is affected by the most subtle of social norms. It’s about how we talk to each other and what makes us willing to share our opinions, which makes it a more flexible and fluid medium than any other.”

I don’t completely agree with the comments about word of mouth and cultural differences. Often people point to the fact that every culture is different and, therefore, there are concerns about “word of mouth” transcending cultural differences.

In my opinion, what is generally overlooked is that word of mouth in different countries doesn’t happen outside the cultural context; it happens inside the cultural context. Cultural differences become an issue when Americans are trying to work with Brits, Brits are trying to work with Scandinavians, Scandinavians with Malaysians or Malaysians with Australians, etc. But word of mouth tends to work well when it happens primarily within a specific cultural context (There’s a whole blog I can do on this subject!).

Suffice it to say that I’m not in complete agreement with Balter on this issue, but I completely recommend the book as a valuable read to anyone who wants to build his or her business through word of mouth.

## The Key to ‘The Secret’string(35) "The Key to ‘The Secret’"

By now, most people have heard of the phenomenally successful movie The Secret, which talks about the Law of Attraction and how it can be used to change lives. The Law of Attraction has been used for thousands of years by some very successful people. Jack Canfield, originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series and a good friend of mine, is one of them. He appeared in The Secret to teach about the Law of Attraction, and now he has written an excellent book called Jack Canfield’s KEY to Living the Law of Attraction.

One of the reasons I really recommend this book is because it cuts to the chase and focuses on things such as clarity, purpose and action–things that are crucial to be successful in business and life.

A lot of other books I’ve run across that talk about the Law of Attraction have way too much of a “New Age” feel. For entrepreneurs like me, that just sends me running the other way.

I want straightforward, clear-cut facts and explanations, and that is exactly what you’ll find in Canfield’s new book. He tells you not only what you need to know, but what you need to do in order to attract what you want in your life. In other words, he gives you the simple steps that can help you implement the Law of Attraction, and he doesn’t fill the pages with a bunch of far-fetched fluff.

You can find out more about Canfield and his new book by visiting: http://www.jackcanfield.com/home/

## How To Work A Roomstring(18) "How To Work A Room"

As I sat on a plane bound for Orlando, Florida, this week, I began sorting through a stack of books that various authors have sent me as gifts, and I came upon the updated version of Susan RoAne’s How to Work a Room. I immediately had to smile because Susan has been a friend of mine for quite some time.  Anybody who knows her can tell you that she not only knows how to work a room, but she knows how to do it with what she calls “charm and chutzpah”–in other words, she is one funny lady!

I looked around at the other passengers surrounding me on the plane, some with their nose buried in a book or a magazine, others closing themselves off to any kind of communication by leaning back with their eyes closed and cranking up their iPod; and I thought, Susan could walk right up to any of these people and have them laughing and talking in a matter of minutes.

Some people, like Susan, are born networkers; but for most people networking is a skill that has to be learned. I would encourage anyone who isn’t necessarily known for having undeniable charm or chutzpah–but who often walks into events, meetings, conferences, or parties wanting to ease into meeting the people he or she doesn’t know–to pick up a copy of How to Work a Room. The recently updated version offers practical strategies for mingling, interacting, schmoozing and building common bonds. It includes chapters on roadblocks and remedies, preparation, small talk, specifc events–and how not to work a room.

The basic social and business dilemmas are the same as when the book was first published, but (judging from the countless iPods, Bluetooth devices, laptops and other technological gadgets that I observed people devoting every shred of their attention to in the airport and on the plane) it’s easy to see that technology has changed, giving us more opportunities to be rude. Susan addresses how those breaches could impact our careers, businesses and reputations, and offers some great suggestions on how to avoid and overcome them.

## Six Essentials for Networkingstring(29) "Six Essentials for Networking"

Recently, I was handed a copy of a book called Rules for Renegades: How to Make More Money, Rock Your Career, and Revel in Your Individuality by Christine Comaford-Lynch.

In the book, she names six networking essentials that are not necessarily the ones people might traditionally think of as the keys to networking success, but I think they can be of significant value–especially her advice on equalizing yourself with others. So I’d like to reprint them for you here, and I invite you to leave comments. Here’s Comaford-Lynch’s list:

1. Practice “Palm Up” Networking. When you network, are you giving or grasping? Palm up networking embodies the spirit of service, of giving and wanting nothing in return. When you network “palm down,” you’re grasping for personal gain. Palm up = heart-oriented interaction. Palm down = greedy grasping. Give to others; it’ll all come back to you in time.

2. Exercise Daily Appreciation. Appreciate at least one person daily. Sometimes I do this via e-mail so I can be thorough. And often, to my delight, the recipient will tell me that they are saving the message for when they need a pick-me-up. You can also express appreciation over the phone or in person. Simply tell someone how much you appreciate who they are or what they do–whatever about them moves you. They’ll be flattered, and you’ll feel great.

3. Equalize Yourself with Others. I believe we all have one unit of worth: no more, no less. No one can add to it; no one can take it away. We’re all equal. Just because someone is powerful, rich and famous doesn’t mean they are better than you. Practice equalizing yourself with others. This will enable you to more comfortably interact with others and to reach out to people of all walks of life.

4. Rolodex Dip. This is a fun practice when you want to connect with someone but aren’t sure whom. Flip through your contact database and pick a name. Then think of all the things you like about them. Now call them up to see how they are doing. They’ll be surprised and delighted.

5. Pick a “Sensei of the Day.” Each day I pick a sensei, a teacher. This is someone or something that has taught me a lesson or reminded me of what’s important in life. Your sensei can be a person, a pet, a plant; it doesn’t matter. The important thing is to acknowledge that there is much to learn and you are being offered valuable lessons constantly.

6. Do the Drive-By Schmooze. Parties and conventions–groups of all sorts–are great opportunities to network. But sometimes you’ll be tired, not in the mood or have too many events in one evening (like during the holiday season). This is when you’ll want to use the Drive-By Schmooze. Here’s how:

a. Timebox your networking. Decide that in 30 minutes you’ll do a check-in to determine if you need to stay any longer.

b. Set your goal. Determine the number of new connections you want to establish. Remember, your goal is meaningful connections, not simply contacts.
c. Let your intuition guide you. This may sound flaky, but it works! Stand near the door, in a corner, out of the way. Stop your thoughts. Internally ask to be guided to the people you need to connect with. Then start walking. You’ll be amazed at whom you meet.
d. Connect. You’ll always resonate with someone at an event. When you do, ask questions about them, such as: How did you get started in your field? What’s your ideal customer? We all love to talk about ourselves, and these questions will not only help you form a connection with this person, but will also tell you how to help them.
e. Offer help and follow through. If you can provide help, jot down ideas on the back of their business card, commit to follow up, and then do it. If you’ve had a fruitful conversation and want to take it further, offer to meet for lunch or coffee. People say life is 90 percent about showing up. Nonsense! Life is 90 percent about following through!

## Why Make Mistakes When We Can Learn From Others?string(48) "Why Make Mistakes When We Can Learn From Others?"

This week, I was having a conversation with one of my employees about a guy who was exposed as a total con artist on national television, yet somehow he still manages to get people to send him millions of dollars in donations each year for his supposed “good cause”–which is, in reality, a complete joke. My employee said, “I just don’t get it! Why in the world are people still sending this guy money when they’ve been told about the thousands of other people who made the mistake of believing him and got ripped off?”

This brings up a good point. Why do we sometimes ignore the lessons we can learn from others’ mistakes and doom ourselves to making the same bad decisions? People in business and sales do this all the time. There are “tried-and-true” sales techniques that are so simplistic it doesn’t seem as though they can be really effective. Many times, we try to re-evaluate, improve upon and complicate them. Oftentimes we end up making things harder than they really are.One of the biggest mistakes that people in business (and especially in sales) make is not listening to the people who have experience. For some reason, they assume that they have to know better . . . and the truth is, they don’t.There is nothing like experience. It beats education every day of the week. The only thing better is a combination of education and experience . . . or a willingness to learn from other people’s experience. There are many basic sales techniques that any good salesperson knows to be effective. They don’t look for something more complicated or involved because they know from their own experience, as well as the experience of others, what works in sales and what doesn’t work in sales.

If you’ve read my book, Masters of Sales, you may have read things that seemed too simple to be effective or you may have seen ideas that you’ve heard before. Instead of being dismissed, these tactics and ideas should be embraced. Masters of Sales learn from other people’s success. Learn from other “Masters” that sometimes the simplest ideas can have the biggest impact.

Look around… make sure no one is watching. You just clicked on a link from a business website to a blog article about “sex.” Well, I’m afraid it might not be what you think.

Do you wonder whether men and women approach networking differently? Well, I do. So do two associates of mine by the name of Hazel Walker and Frank De Raffele.

Sex is about how your body is put together. Gender is about the role you engage in daily. Male and female brains are hardwired differently. According to some experts, the male tends to be about taking action as related to goals (called instrumental functions by the scholars) and the female for the talking or for nurture that is related to relationships (called agency or interpersonal functions). Studies in 39 different countries highlight these differences.

Well, we want to see if this is true and how it plays out relating to the way that men and women network. So take a few minutes (really it will only take a few minutes) and join the 5,000 people who have already answered this survey. We will be sharing the results in an upcoming book, and you can say you were part of the survey!

Take the networking gender survey here.

In addition, feel free to post a message below relating to your thoughts on the subject.

## Double Your Income Doing What You Lovestring(38) "Double Your Income Doing What You Love"

A good friend of mine, Raymond Aaron, just released a new book called Double Your Income Doing What You Love. This is a great book that I highly recommend.

Most people want to make more money, but they often feel that in order to do so they’ll have to sacrifice their lifestyle and then work at a job they don’t particularly like. Raymond (seen below with me) says that if you’re like most people, your life is likely to be filled with activities, obligations and commitments that have nothing to do with your goals, dreams or life’s mission. He makes a convincing argument that it doesn’t have to be that way. More important, he breaks down his ideas into six “pathways,” which enable you to set goals in a way that always helps you achieve a solid level of success in whatever you do.

Raymond helps you start the process by having you consider your life missions and special talents, and then he shows you how to address procrastination and establish what he calls MTO goals (simple concept and very powerful).

If you knew Raymond like I know Raymond, you’d definitely read this book. He is an amazingly accomplished man who is doing what he loves (He recently partcipated in an Arctic Polar Race by walking with a sled to the North Pole!) and he makes a great living at the same time.

With Raymond, you’re getting advice from the real dealsomeone who is doing what he is teaching.

## The Speed of Truststring(18) "The Speed of Trust"

I’m in Cancun this week, participating in the Transformational Leadership Council (a network of transformational trainers and profesionals started by Jack Canfield in 2004).

I had an opportunity again to hear my friend Stephen M. R. Covey speak about his book, The Speed of Trust, and it reminded me just how much I love this book and why it is so important to networking.

During his presentation, he told how Warren Buffet bought a company from Wal-Mart in one single meeting of two hours. Both parties shook hands and, 29 days later, Wal-Mart had its money. In Buffet’s annual report he said; “We did no due diligence. We knew that Wal-Mart would do what they said, and they did.”

In this day and age of long contracts and huge legal bills, this sale was done quickly because there was high trust on both sides. The result was a deal done in less than a month, saving millions of dollars.

Trust is the most compelling form of motivation. Covey spoke about “Three Key Ideas” to move at the speed of trust:

1. There is a compelling business rationale for trust. It affects cost. There are economic benefits. High trust is a divedend and low trust is a tax. When trust goes down, speed goes down with it. When trust goes up, speed goes up and costs go down. This is a dividend, a high-trust dividend. Trust is a qualitative and quantitative factor. Nothing is as fast as the speed of trust.
2. In today’s new global economy, the ability to establish trust is key to every organization. We are interdependent. In a cluttered world, trust helps you cut through the clutter. It is a performance multiplier. When people trust you, everything else you do is enhanced.
3. Trust is a competency. It is something we create and can get good at. It all starts with self-trust and personal credibility. Are we behaving in a way that builds trust and transparency? Are we keeping commitments and talking straight?

One of the best ways to obtain trust is to extend trust. When trust is reciprocated, it moves faster.

Covey ended his presentation by asking, “Are there people that you work with that you could extend trust to who you can make a profound difference for?” Now the key is to follow your conscience. Develop relationships and extend trust.

I love Covey’s book and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to build and improve his or her personal network.

Shown in photo – Stephen M.R. Covey, Ivan Misner and Greg Link (Covey’s business partner at Covey-Link).

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