3.5 Degrees of Separation

If you’re not familiar with the theory of 6 degrees of separation, it’s the generally accepted belief that everybody on earth is connected by a chain of no more than 6 acquaintances – you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows Barack Obama. Or Usain Bolt. Or the Pope.

As the degrees of separation become fewer, the name of the game changes from finding connections to learning how to leverage existing connections in meaningful and impactful ways.

In February 2016, almost 90 years after the original theory was proposed, enter Facebook, the notorious glutton for social experimentation, who conducted an experiment that suggests the number is likely closer to 3.5. Well, 3.57 if you want to get specific. (The full study as well as Facebook’s estimate of your own personal number can be found here.)

Our world has become so small that fewer than 4 introductions can get you to anyone on the planet. It’s hard to wrap your head around, especially when you consider that people in the 2 degrees of separation category – the ‘friend of a friend’ category – are the people we get introduced to all the time through mutual friends, family, and colleagues. Add another 1.57 degrees and you’ve got the whole world at your fingertips.

Once you’ve wrapped your head around that, try wrapping your head around the power of a phenomenon like that. What does that mean for us as salespeople and business owners?

In the real estate industry, we rely heavily on referrals. Whether it’s a past client’s five star review on Zillow or our mom’s shameless plugs for our business to everyone in church on Sunday, our “friends,” “friends of friends,” and “friends of friends of friends,” are where a large majority of our business comes from. So if it stands true that we’re all connected by roughly over three introductions, then we should be very very concerned with making sure we’re leveraging that personal network to the fullest extent that we can. As the degrees of separation become fewer, the name of the game changes from finding connections to learning how to leverage existing connections in meaningful and impactful ways.

So what does this mean for your marketing strategy?


social-media-1405601_1280Social Media matters.

I’m not here to tell you that you need to be on social media in order to be successful, but if you don’t think social media would amplify your brand awareness exponentially you are just plain wrong. Think of it this way: Would you prefer someone else attempt to rehash your knowledge and expertise in their own words or hit “share” on your words, your site, and your brand image as designed exactly the way you want to be perceived? Social media allows you to gain control over the word of mouth marketing we rely on so heavily in this industry, ensuring that each of those 3.5 “introductions” represents you in a narrative that you have control over. 


You can’t let people forget you exist.

Unless you remind your network of who you are and the breadth of knowledge you have, they will forget to bring you up to a friend searching for a home, forget to leave you a review online, forget to send your number to their coworker who asked them for a reference. You have to remind them. And you have to do so in a way that won’t overwhelm or annoy. A slow, consistent stream of quality content that both reminds and proves your competence will do the trick.


It doesn’t have to be expensive. 

Really, it doesn’t. It’s easy to tell the difference between someone who’s just pumping money into their marketing campaign without anything to back it and someone who actually knows what they’re doing. If you produce something valuable – whether it’s full of great information, provides great links to additional, equally valuable resources, or is even just plain fun to look at – your content will promote itself. Those three and a half degrees of separation mean a mere three and a half “shares” can get you to almost anyone. And in the world of over-sharing that we currently reside, that’s essentially nothing.

Which leads me to my final point…


You have to be twice as good. 

4229364807_d676435dd1_zThere had to be a downside, right? When the world is twice as small, you have to be twice as good. You have to clean your database, write, email, post, film a video, respond to comments, write some more. Or else someone else will get in front of your network instead. It takes time, effort, and a lot of learning to tackle it all, (psst – that’s where Hither can help!) but the tools are all at your fingertips. The connections are there – that’s the easy part – it’s just a matter of capitalizing on the power behind that 3.5.


Prioritizing Creativity

October 10, 2017

Content is easy. Compelling content is hard.

September 21, 2016

Show, Don’t Tell

September 21, 2016