Savvy Seniors: It’s a Small, Small World

Posted on November 1, 2012 with No Comments

Six Degrees of Separation

It’s commonly said that we’re separated, at most, by six degrees of separation from any other person. In their recent book, the start-up of YOU, Reid Hoffman (cofounder and chairman of LinkedIn) and Ben Casnocha discuss the 1967 study that this oft repeated phrase is based on. They also note how it might show up in daily life: “The clerk at the local hardware store once hiked through Yosemite with your brother-in-law. Your new girlfriend is in the same bowling league as your boss…It’s fun to make these unexpected connections.”

These connections, however, they argue, are more than fun and interesting, they are gateways to new information and potential opportunities.  Hoffman and Casnocha discuss the importance of having both strong and weak ties in our networks. The strong ties are built on trust and well developed mutual interest and similarities, while the weaker ties can “serve as bridges to other worlds.”

Most students and alumni realize after some reflection, that they do know someone who may be a good potential contact in their career exploration and job search. Quite often the person they think of is one of those weaker ties, or 2nd degree contacts, for example the uncle of a friend. All students, however, can tap into the power of the extended UVM alumni network through LinkedIn. As Hoffman and Casnocha write, “Online social networks are converting the abstract idea of worldwide interconnectedness into something tangible and searchable. Out of an estimated one billion professionals in the world, well over 10 million of them are on LinkedIn.”

If you’re not LinkedIn, it’s time. If you are already on it, chances are you could be using it more effectively.

To get started:

~Kala

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