Start from the beginning, what is and what is networking for?
Networking defines as the use or management of networks, with the objective of sharing sources or to obtain information. It is a natural process that happens in some situations like drinking a coffee in a bar, during a colleagues meeting, on a trip or in a specific event, for example. I daresay, in all cases, the objective is to contact with people who to bring us something of value, I mean some interesting to our professional or personal lives.
When we work our networking, we are amplifying our contacts net or making it a value tool to our daily life. But we are, especially, creating a bidirectional relationship with our contacts who, in many cases, become customers, partners or sector colleagues.
And now, talk about the 6 grades theory, what is and how is it related to networking?
In 1929, the writer Fridyes Karinthy, claimed that two people, totally unknown, are connected by a known people chain with no more than 5 persons between this two. Even if they were in opposite extremes of the Earth.
Somewhat late, in 1967, Stanley Milgram raised something similar, called “the small world phenomenon”, his research consisted in the shipment of a package by certain people who send it to someone on the opposite side of the world but using another person, close to the first recipient to give him/her the package. It is logical to think that hundreds of hands touched the package before it arrived at the recipient. But it didn’t happen like that. Stanley Milgram demonstrated that the package arrived at the recipient passing only by 6 or 7 people before him/her.
Although the Stanley Milgram studies were discredited, the 6 grades theory continues till nowadays. Thanks to the social networks, it has been demonstrated that there is even less than 6 grades of separation between two unknown people. For example, it has been demonstrated in Facebook, we could arrive to meet someone from the other side of the world with only 5 jumps. In LinkedIn, however, it is possible only with 3.
A couple of years, a professor asked me: “do you think I meet Obama?”. I looked at him like this?, he tried again: “oooook, I’m going to rephrase the question, do you think I could meet Obama?”. Then I answered: “who knows, maybe in the future you meet him crossing the airport!”. So he insisted: “yes, I can meet Obama, I only need 3 or 4 people who take me to him. The question is to know who is gonna taking me to him, and the only way to find out is by networking”.