3 Degrees of Rita

{4:05 minutes to read} I recently had an amazing conversation with a potential client. Let’s call him Bob. I asked him to draw a dot on a piece of paper, which represented one of my favorite clients: Rita. I then asked him to draw a circle around Rita, to represent her first-degree relationships.

Although her LinkedIn profile might say she has 3000 connections in her first degree, I asked Bob to write the number 300 on that first circle around Rita, to represent the 300 people that she could call on the phone and they would know exactly who she was. These 300 have an instant relatedness to her. I then asked him to draw another circle outside Rita’s first degree, to represent the second degree of Rita.

3 Degrees of Rita by Cynthia Greenawalt

The 300 people in Rita’s first degree, multiplied by each of their own 300 first-degree contacts, creates the second degree of Rita. This consists of 90,000 people!

I then asked Bob to draw a third circle around Rita’s second degree. I asked him: what do you get when you take these 90,000 people on Rita’s second degree and multiply it by the 300 in their own first-degree circles? What’s amazing is that I almost always get 2 distinct answers whenever I ask clients this question. Some say it’s 270,000 while most say it’s 2.7 million.

One out of 50 people in the seminars where I present this exercise will actually give the correct answer, which is 27 million people. Typically, people are shocked to hear that number. Given how many people know each other and share contacts with each other, it’s impossible for there to be 27 million unique people on Rita’s 3rd degree.

The magic of the third degree is this: Instead of 27 million unique people, what if it’s 27 million unique touches to 5 million people. Notice the impact we experience when we hear rave reviews about the same book from 3 different people we respect — it’s the same when we hear about a phenomenal realtor for the 3rd time. We tend to take action and buy that book or opt to go with that realtor. This demonstrates the power of the “gang-up factor,” as I like to call it.

But here’s the real punchline of this exercise: if Rita were to only focus on the traditional way of networking — going to events and gathering business cards — at the end of 6 months she’d likely have a collection of 200 cards on her desk. That means 200 new people to talk to about her business. I asked Bob to add these 200 new people to Rita’s first-degree circle by writing in 200 little dots onto his diagram. This illustration represents the madness of pushing aside the 300 people she already knows in her first degree to make room for the additional 200 she barely knows.

This means she’s spending the majority of her networking time on these 200 new relationships and very little time focusing on the 300 who already know her, and in many cases, respect her. Imagine instead if the majority of this time were spent cultivating (i.e., deepening) her existing first degree of 300, and perhaps choosing to develop VIP relationships with just 10 of those people.

Magic happens when Rita has developed partnerships with these 10 VIP referral sources (aka, raving fans), each willing to introduce Rita to 20 new people over the course of a year. This results in 200 “referred” contacts (each of whom already dwells within Rita’s second degree) – as opposed to 200 “cold” contacts that she has to win over by herself (and squeeze into her first degree). The difference with the “VIP cultivation approach” to networking is that these new introductions are brought to Rita through trusted recommendations, making the courtship process that much faster.

This is often a life-altering paradigm shift for my clients. People can get distracted by linear networking —  finding their own prospects — instead of partnering with people (VIPs) we already know who then lead us to contacts deep within their networks.

Draw out the circles of your diagram: Who are the VIPs in your first degree? How many relationships can they lead you to that are already in your 2nd & 3rd degrees?

Cynthia Greenawalt

Cynthia Greenawalt

No Comments

Post A Comment