My good friend Owen Bailey is two degrees removed from Kevin Bacon.
He is way ahead of the curve. It is common knowledge that the rest of us are six degrees removed from the popular Hollywood actor.
According to the three college students who created the popular game, Six Degrees From Kevin Bacon, the prolific actor has quite the extensive network. In a 1994 interview, Bacon commented, “I’ve worked with everyone in Hollywood OR I have worked with someone who has worked with them.”
That list includes Ben Stein. Remember Ben Stein?
Owen Bailey knows Ben Stein. (Thus the two degrees separating Bacon and Bailey.) Ben and Owen had a conversation in Ben’s front yard when the Baileys were on vacation in LA. The following year, Ben couldn’t attend Owen’s 50th birthday party, but sent congratulations anyway. Compared to the rest of us, Owen is so close to Kevin Bacon it’s a little uncomfortable.
If you know Owen, you aren’t surprised by this fact. His network is deep and broad—rivaled only by the iconic Bacon. But how is yours?
Want to test it?
Take a good look at this fine group of people.
My friends Scott and Lori Hutchinson (pictured at far left) hosted this group at their house last Sunday afternoon. Scott and Lori are two of the most hospitable people I know. And they are no slouches when it comes to networking either. After all, they know Owen Bailey. If you do the math, then, that means that they are a mere three degrees from Kevin Bacon themselves.
See how easy this is?
Back up to the picture. Do you know any of them? I bet you do. In fact, because I know the distribution audience of this blog, I would guess that everyone reading this blog knows at least one person pictured above.
Do you know what that means? You, my dear reader, are only FOUR degrees removed from Kevin Bacon. Shoot, he may acknowledge you the next time he wins an Oscar. (Actually, despite his sizzling career, Bacon has never won an Academy Award.)
Why is networking so important?
As I tell my kids all the time, forget WHAT you know. WHO you know is a much better predictor of your future.
Judy Robinette—renown expert in networking—lists these top ten tips to develop a network like Owen Bailey.
So the next time you want to simply exchange business cards, resist the urge. Go deeper as Judy suggests. Networking is hard work, but well worth the effort. Think about it this way. Are you more likely to connect with someone if you know them already a little or know someone that knows them? Check out the data on why we connect on social media.
This year, Harvard professor Francesca Gina produced some fascinating research about networking. Successful networkers are those who:
- Approach networking as a learning experience. Networkers fall into two categories according to Gina—promoters or preventers. Promoters view networking as an opportunity to learn, to be curious about the other party. Preventers, on the other hand, feel obligated to participate in the festivities—like they had to do it or they would miss out.
- Seek to find common interests to work on together. To build a strong network, seek “task interdependence.” Task interdependence means finding a common interest with a new contact where each of you contribute to a task, cause, or project. Seeking involvement with someone develops a lasting bond.
- Think broadly about what we can “give” to the other person. Judy Robinette calls this the VALUE that you provide. I entered into a new network this fall simply by supplying needed information when asked. If you can’t find anything to give, start by offering gratitude—genuine gratitude leaves a favorable impression on any network partner.
- Find a higher purpose. Those who loathe networking often feel dirty, fake, or phony. If this describes you, lift your sights higher. Don’t think of networking as something to benefit your career, focus instead on what it can do for your company, your customers, or your employees.
A personal example … In the three years since I started my consulting business, EVERY ONE OF MY CLIENTS has come from within my network—many from associations from the group pictured above. So do me a favor—if you know someone in the picture, tag them with this blog on Facebook or Twitter and tell them I said thanks!
And by the way, Owen Bailey was present at the Hutchinsons, but had to leave so he is not in the picture—rumor has it that Ben asked him to go Christmas shopping for Kevin Bacon.