And so this is Christmas? Another year over and a new year just began — with only 4 degrees of separation not 6!

by Sharon on December 2, 2011

As we get closer to the silly season, it’s official (at least according to Facebook!) we now have only 4 degrees of separation from each other, not six. So the world is getting smaller and it only takes 4 communications to get to anyone, anywhere. Some even argue 3.

Does this mean the big social gatherings of the past are under threat this festive season? Are we so uber-connected via LinkedIn, Twitter, smartphones, instant messaging — that big family or social gatherings will die away? Because we are now in touch with Great Aunt Ethel regularly by Skype — will we really need to come together in person this Christmas?

I can’t help feeling that would be sad. But there is a wave of sentiment with ecards, emails and Twitter messages that suggests this year, more than any other, will bring on a new type of cyber Christmas. A new trend in seasonal celebration — could the kiss under the mistletoe face extinction?

Who said we were originally only six degrees apart? The idea was first put forward in the 1960’s — yep nearly fifty years ago! Originally set out in 1929 by Hungarian journalist, author and playwright Frigyes Karinthy, the concept was popularised in a play written by John Guare, it even inspired a game entitled ‘6 degrees of Kevin Bacon’ in the 80’s.

So will 6 degrees of separation become ‘old school’ in our language in 2012?

According to Facebook, the 6 has moved to 4.47 degrees of separation and any two people on Facebook are, on average, separated by no more than 4.47 connections. The Facebook team concludes, “people are in fact only four worlds apart”.

I guess this is great news for sales professionals everywhere, but not so great if you’re trying to avoid exes, former colleagues, employers and the like. Evidently if you are communicating within your own country the degree of separation reduces to 3. Gosh to think if I lived in America I would be 3 calls from George Clooney? I may ponder that for a while.

The world and who lives in it, is literally at your fingertips and there is now no excuse not to increase your spheres of influence. For me, increased access through social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter, allows me to find out about a person’s background in more depth before I meet or speak with them. This has a fundamental change in one’s ability to prepare for communication. Social media is increasingly bringing people together into a ‘Global Village’ just as Marshall McLuhan predicted over thirty years ago.

It is a changing world on many counts — social media has long been known to assist the recruitment world. The RCSA (Recruitment and Consulting Services Association) survey as long as three years ago in 2009, found that 45 percent of recruitment firms say they used social media for ‘candidate sourcing’ and that the popularity of LinkedIn amongst recruiters is growing, as it is for companies finding new talent.

The whole sales and CRM process is being revolutionised with increased take up of tools such as LinkedIn which makes database updating and maintenance easier, faster, less intrusive and more importantly cheaper.

I’m seeing a fundamental shift in the way we do business for 2012. It’s a whole new easier, cost saving world out there as business owners, and I’m using the next 8 weeks to review every aspect of how we operate at Taurus.

Perhaps as never before, we’ve got to move with the times to keep up and reap the benefits. My top tip for all business owners is to ensure you maximize your connections and organise to invite your network onto LinkedIn this Christmas season if you haven’t already.

A quick thought, if the recent research from Google was to consider all the forms of social media, such as Twitter, Linked In, Google + plus all the others, I wonder what the results would find… is it possible there could be only 2 degrees of separation? Personally, I can’t wait to give my family members a hug in person and maybe in the New Year get to George Clooney in 2 calls!

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