5.6 Billion People

Are We Now Connected to 5.6 Billion People Worldwide?string(53) "Are We Now Connected to 5.6 Billion People Worldwide?"

Here’s an interesting question:

“Hi Ivan – How are you? With BNI at 250,000 members in 70+ countries according to Dunbar we are all 1 degree of social connection from 38 million people, and 2 degrees from 5.6 Billion people (or about 3/4 of the worlds population). Dunbar says 150 people each so 250,000 x 150 x 150 = 5.6 billion people. Is this correct?” 

I received this question in my inbox and it is a very reasonable “Ask Ivan” question.  From a purely mathematical perspective it sounds true.  However, the short answer is, “sorry, no.”

The idea that 5.6 billion people are ALL connected by six people is a myth.

Here’s why.  The Dunbar Number is a sociological equation not a pure mathematical equation.  For example, if you use pure math you must assume that there is no overlap between the 150 people you know and the 150 people I know.  However, we both have many of the same 150 people in our own personal sphere (hence the sociological equation vs. a pure mathematical equation). In addition, don’t forget that Stanley Milgram’s “Six Degrees” is actually a fallacy.  Check out this short video as to why:


Sorry.  I don’t mean to be a “kill-joy.”  It was a good question.  Maybe the best question I’ve had in a long time.  I like the way you think. I highly recommend for everyone to please continue to send me your questions and I will attempt to answer as many as possible.

six degrees

Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, and Six Degrees of Separationstring(56) "Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, and Six Degrees of Separation"

  • What do Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and “Six Degrees” have in common? The idea that we are ALL connected by six people is a myth.

People all around the world believe in these myths.

However, being connected by six degrees of people is an urban legend. Please watch this video to learn the problems that exist with the belief that we are ALL connected by six people. It is true  that the average number of those that made connections was 6 people. However, the overwhelming majority of people in Milgam’s study never reached the intended person.  We are not all connected by six people around the world

This myth creates a complatency. Some people are better connected than others.  That is imporant because that means that this is an acquired skill. These skills can improve with reading and coaching.  It is possible to be connected to anyone with the power of networking.

For more information, check out my book

The 29% Solution: 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies

The Six Degree Myth and the 29 Percent Solutionstring(47) "The Six Degree Myth and the 29 Percent Solution"

So often in networking, people reference the Six Degrees of Separation theory, claiming that anyone they wish to get in contact is only six people away.

What many fail to realize, however, is that this theory is a complete myth. Networking doesn’t just happen, and relying on your network to bring you to your ideal client without having to work for it won’t help you succeed. The story of the Six Degrees of Separation theory also leaves out one key element of the actual study. Only 29 percent of the participants in the study were able to connect themselves back to the target in six steps. 71 percent were unable to do it.

This is the basis for my book, The 29 Percent Solution, co-written by myself and Michelle Donovan. After watching this video blog, I encourage you to check out the book to learn a couple of key strategies to really expand upon your network.

What strategies do you use to grow your network? Do you find that the myth of the Six Degrees of Separation actually holds true for you? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.