No.22/ December 19, 2006

 The Corporate Muse

Merry Christmas!  And welcome to The Corporate Muse.  We wish all of you the best this holiday season.  This month, we focus  heavily on networking as it's the subject for both the main and marketing sections. The writing segment offers a little missive on the use of verbs.  And our newest addition, "Recognition," has really taken off.  This issue we introduce you to another of our subscribers.  As always, we welcome suggestions and/or questions. 



Six Degrees of Separation

Did you happen to catch ABC's Primetime on Dec 13th? In their new series, Basic Instinct, they tested the theory of "Six Degrees of Separation."

Popularized by the movie of the same name, the basic tenet stems from the belief that you can reach anyone in the world through a chain of six people.  In other words, it would take six contacts or less for you to hook up with Brad Pitt or Angela Merkel (the chancellor of Germany). 

On Primetime, two people from Manhattan were asked to find an amateur boxer in Bedford Stuyvesant.  The producers then turned it around and had the boxer find a dancer on Broadway.  All three contestants accomplished their goal in five associations or less.  (The person they were to find was considered the sixth.)

Does this prove the theory?  One random incident with the desired outcome probably doesn't offer enough evidence to substantiate such a claim.  But ABC's not alone in its experimentation. 

The scientific studies of the idea began in 1967 by a man named Stanley Milgram. (See: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=0001297C-C5F8-1F32-9AD380A84189F2D7.)  He asked 96 people around the country to mail letters to several acquaintances. The recipients then forwarded those notes to their associates (and so on), until they landed at a specified person in Boston.  Milgram found it took an average of six intermediaries to reach the target.  But because his test group was so small, some authorities rejected his analysis.  

Does it really work?  That's what researchers at Columbia University wanted to know.  Since 2003, they've been conducting an experiment using email.  (You can read about it at: http://smallworld.columbia.edu/description.html.  And participate in the study at: http://smallworld.columbia.edu/.)  So far their findings have proved the theory to be correct.

Taking it a step further.  You may have already heard about the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" game, (http://www.pen.k12.va.us/Div/Winchester/jhhs/math/lessons/stat/sixdeg.html).  It supposes all celebrities are connected through their work and associations to Kevin Bacon.  An interesting hypothesis, but not particularly scientific.

Why does it work?  One Cornell computer scientist says the answer can be found through personal networking. "It's a collective phenomenon. Collectively the network knows how to find people even if no one person does," said Jon Kleinberg, assistant professor of computer science, who published his explanation in the Aug. 24 issue of the journal Nature.  (http://www.news.cornell.edu/Chronicle/00/8.31.00/six_degrees_sep.html)

My husband, Andy, believes it's a numbers game based on how many people you know.  Multiply that number by itself five times (i.e., if you know 60 people, each of those 60 knows 60 more, and so on).  The product of your equation will be more than the population of the earth.  So theoretically, you're only five multiples away from everyone else on earth.

Either way, it's good news for those of us in business.  You may think you don't know anyone.  Your contacts are your immediate family and long-time friends.  But even casual acquaintances can be the key to finding new clients, prospects or vendors. 

Everybody knows someone.  It's just a matter of connecting the links in the chain. 

And that's the hard part.  Finding the one person who can begin the sequence.  You may have to do some serious thinking, but if you want to meet the Queen of England, you already have the resources to do so.  You just might not be aware of it.

Most of us aren't interested in meeting royalty or celebrities.  We do have a need to connect with others in order to expand our businesses.  As the old saying goes, "It's not what you know, but who you know." 

Let me make it clear - I'm not suggesting you pounce on all your associates to see who they might know.  Rather think about all of those who might have connections, or access to connections, that could help promote your business. 

This isn't predatory; it's survival.  For many industries, referrals generate the best clients.  It's also reciprocal.  You recommend a client to a colleague, she, in turn, passes on a good word for you. 

This explains why every so often, out-of-the-blue, a prospect calls up and says you come highly recommended, even though he can't tell you how or where he got your name. 

In the long run, Six Degrees of Separation may be a natural progression.  The more people you encounter, both personally and professionally, the more likely you are to make the "right" connections for your industry.  If, on the other hand, you need to find someone in a particular profession (say a culinary indexer), then enlisting Six Degrees of Separation your best choice.

If it's true we're all linked by as few as six cogs in a wheel; then making connections should be easy.  Keep networking and interacting with others and you will make those associations you need to grow your business.   (SKC)  

© QuickSilver Copywriters 2006 -- Andy & Shawn Catsimanes; http://www.quicksilvercopywriters.com/; mailto: andy_shawn@quicksilvercopywriters.com; Sign up for The Corporate Muse: admin@quicksilvercopywriters.com


Riding The Waves To Better Networking

We stood six floors above the sand, staring down at the waves rolling onto to the beach.  I watched for the pure enjoyment of the experience, while my husband observed the conditions and the surf.


Growing up in Florida, he'd spent numerous hours out on the ocean, surfing with his buddies; something I knew nothing about.  So I asked him to explain.


As he schooled me on the art of surfing, I saw a distinct correlation between "hanging ten" and networking. 


"First you have to check the conditions.  See what direction the wind is blowing.  It will tell you where you're most likely to catch the best waves.  If you don't know the pattern of the swells, you'll exhaust yourself treading water." 


No matter what you do, you need to do your homework.  That's true for marketing, job hunting, networking, etc.  If you randomly attend seminars, without knowing the kinds of people who will be there, you'll probably strike out.  You have to carefully select your networking venues.  You need to "check the conditions" before you paddle out.   If you're not a good fit for the audience, you'll just "tread water" talking to people who have no interest in your product or service.


I asked him how many waves he'd ride in a day.  "It depends on the conditions and if I'm prepared.  Waves come in swells.  It's when the wave breaks that you can ride it.  Because I surf without my glasses, I can't see very well.  I often miss a ride, because my vision is unclear."


Being ready when the opportunity arises is essential.  Keep your eyes open.  Observe people.  Watch for openings - breaks in the waves - that will give you the likelihood of a "good ride."  (Note:  I don't mean taking someone for a ride, but rather making yourself available in order to make important connections.)


"One of the biggest problems," Andy told me, "Is everyone is looking for the big wave.  Waiting for that one perfect ride instead of taking advantage of several acceptable rides they could have on the waves near by."


This is true in networking, too.  Many inexperienced networkers congregate around the speakers or other experts.  They hope to land a "big wave," so pay no attention to the possibilities standing right next to them. 


I think Sylvie Fortin said it best, "I've seen people do this at seminars: only seek out certain people they think can further their business.  They head for the "gurus."  It's quite remarkable the people they consider to be large fish.  They ignore everyone else.  Yet the person they least expect might actually be the one who could help them the most.  When you attend seminars, don't always think about the person on the stage.  Look around you.  The people in the audience offer the greatest potential."


*Update: Million Dollar Marketing Secrets, the long-awaited book we've coauthored with a "Who' Who" of veteran business builders like Clayton Makepeace, JP Maroney, and Michel Fortin (to name just a few)... is now at the printers and will be available soon.


As subscribers to the Corporate Muse you're eligible for a special pre-release discount and over $300 in bonuses. 


We'll let you know as soon as it comes off the presses!



A recent video report illustrated the importance of a well-used verb.  The speaker mentioned how writers often try to spice up their copy with adjectives and adverbs.  

Inserted judiciously in just the right places, modifiers add oomph to otherwise boring prose.  But overuse of them clutters the text. 

Verbs, on the other hand, create scenes. 

Here's an example.  Which one do you think sounds better?

"He ran quickly to the corner store to pick up the extra-large package of Oreos for his pregnant wife."

Or ...

"He raced out into the cold and jogged the sixteen blocks to the nearest store.  His jacket whipped open as the wind beat against his chest.  But his wife, ripe with child, craved Oreos.  And he'd crawl on broken glass to get them for her."

I replaced "ran quickly" with raced and jogged.  I also bettered the paragraph by including a descriptive sentence using the verbs "whipped" and "beat."  "Craved" and "crawl" produce images in the reader's mind. 

You will note I used four adjectives - "sixteen," "nearest," "ripe" and "broken."  You can't completely eliminate modifiers.  They key is to select them with care.  What, if anything, do they contribute to the content?
Whenever possible, choose an action verb - preferably one that paints a picture - over adverbs and adjectives.  It will enhance your writing and improve your success rate.

Sometime in the next couple of months, I'll be offering a free report entitled, Powerful Action Verbs.  Stay tuned to find out when it's available.




Dan Hansen of Trek Bicycle Stores of KC & STL

Raised on a farm, Dan spent most of his life in northeast Nebraska.  After high school, he worked in the machine tool industry as a machinist and tool die maker.  

Several years later, as manager of a small manufacturing company that also owned holdings in several restaurants, Dan became the general contractor whenever they built or remodeled a restaurant.

In 1997, the company decided to remove the brewpub from one of the restaurants and make it into a stand-alone brewery.  As usual, Dan ended up as the project supervisor.  This lasted about four years.  During this time, Dan's love of cycling and desire to change careers merged.    

Leaving family and friends, without any retail experience, Dan made a giant leap.  He and his wife moved from Lincoln to Kansas City and started the first Trek Bicycle Store.

In just three years, it's expanded to four locations.  (Dan owns the shops with two partners.)  Their website (http://www.trekkc.com/) gives the public a chance to view their products and informs them of upcoming cycling events. 

Dan strongly believes in being committed to whatever he's doing.  As passionate as he is about cycling, he cautions that passion can blind you.  Be realistic.  "Don't fall in love with your inventory.  It's what the public wants, not what you want."

He's most proud of his staffing, but also finds it the most challenging.  Too many applicants see the job as a stepping-stone for bigger and better things, instead of viewing it as a career.  He offers a full benefit package to his managers.  He also employs an open-book management system.  It teaches his staff the nuts and bolts of running a business and enlightens them on how their contribution affects the company.

Dan suggests these tips for new entrepreneurs:

  1. Identify your core values.  Not those of the business, but what you personally believe.
  2. Set goals for yourself (again make this personal).
  3. Be honest in all your dealings with everyone - including yourself.
  4. Know your strengths and your weaknesses.  And don't be afraid to hire accordingly.
  5. Know the mechanics of running a business.  Take the logical steps.  Write out a business plan.  Force yourself to do it if you have to.  (He can't emphasize this enough.)
  6. Do your homework - on your industry and on business in general.  Don't ever become stagnant.

Thanks for reading. See you next month!

Andy & Shawn Catsimanes


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