I remember hearing that expression for the first time at Disneyland in Orange County. I may be wrong. I was 21 and enjoying some rides. I was bigger than many of the kids around me. At the time, I lived in Canada, and was attending college at the University of Western Ontario with my roommate, who I still talk to today. We repeat the same jokes, and we still laugh at them. He still lives in Canada, but comes to visit me in California from time to time.
Back then, the world didn’t seem like a small world when I was visiting California. Canada was significantly a much smaller world – country larger than the United States but with a population smaller than California then and now.
Marshall McLuhan was writing that the world was a global village. I guess so, I thought to myself at the time. Today, my college roommate’s sons live in Shanghai. I think they have an internet-based business, and teach English there. My nephew lives in Canada, and speaks Mandarin.
Often, I connect people with other people, and they get excited about the six degrees of separation. I do believe in the fact that we only need to connect with a few people in our lives to make a quantum leap in our connections around the world. I think it can happen if you are a connector and you help to close those degrees of separation. Serendipity does occur in networking, but not very often – mostly, you have to create it yourself.
I have used paid interns for over ten years – millenials, or the slash generation as I call them. I believe in harnessing their personal passions. The best way to feel 21 is to be with people who are 21. A lot of people experience 21 as a memory; I live it. One of my former interns got married this summer. His father runs a large agency in town, and his new bride works for an action sports company that is a global brand. She reports to my first intern that I hired when I started my business ten years ago, and didn’t know what I was doing. I am still trying to figure it out.
I had lunch this week at the At Last Café in Long Beach. It felt more like Canada than California. A hispanic man was wearing a Blue Jays cap. I asked. I was with a couple of very nice people from the Alumni Affairs Department from the University of Western Ontario, who were in town for an alumni event in LA. I told them about Canadians in OC, a group which I helped to create. We have over 350 members. It wasn’t that hard.
So, how do you create a small world?
First, I think that personal networking meetings are best. Although I am deeply engaged in social media, I still believe that face time, not Facebook, leads to the best relationships. Most of my networking meetings last an hour. I don’t time them; they time themselves. The time goes by much faster than many of the classes I attended in college. You tend to go deeper when you meet in person. You learn more things, acquire more touch points, you connect on the little things that can only happen in person. All of the things that make you a little bit more committed. You create a smaller circle of intimacy, and possibly a closer relationship.
And, hopefully, a small world after all.
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