I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older, but my “worlds” seem to be colliding more frequently these days.
I can’t tell you how many times I hear something like this: “Oh, I see from Facebook that you know so and so . . . how do you know them?” OR I get approached by someone who says, “I hear we have a mutual friend.” I feel like the actor at the center of the famous (infamous) “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” networking exercise, except instead of six degrees of separation, it’s more like two.
Here are a few extreme examples:
- A college friend lives in the same sub-division in Fort Worth, Texas, as an old boyfriend of mine (who only lived in Kansas for three months one summer).
- A sweet lady in my church congregation worked for my uncle, who was a family medicine doctor in Newton, Kansas. In another weird twist of fate, this doctor actually delivered one of my sorority sisters back in 1970.
- One of the craziest stories is when I was in Cabo San Lucas for my 35th birthday with high school friends. As I look across the room in the Cabo Wabo Cantina, I see one of my sorority sisters!
- The music teacher at my school is a “long lost cousin”(well her dad’s brother married my dad’s sister so we share an Aunt/Uncle and cousins)
Granted, I have somewhere in the vicinity of 47 first cousins (literally) and I’m related to half of western Kansas(a slight exaggeration ). And granted, I basically went to two colleges (I grew up in Pittsburg and “hung out” at Pitt State, but actually graduated from Baker). I’ve lived in Wichita, Kansas City, Missouri, Miami County, and now the Silver Lake/Kansas/Topeka area. Still, I don’t think being an extroverted sales person should make my world quite this small.
Let’s fast-forward to one of the latest common pop culture sayings: “Out of (bleeps) to give.” I can certainly appreciate the fact there comes a time in life when you don’t really care what others think of you because you are “comfortable in your own skin.” I must warn you, though, that you should not take this saying to the extreme on a professional level (and let’s face it, our personal lives often collide with our professional lives). You could make enemies. It’s a very small world.
I tell job candidates all the time, “Don’t burn bridges.” One thing I cannot control in my line of work is when clients do what are called “off the record references.” Is this practice a complete breach of confidentiality? Absolutely. Are my clients doing anything illegal? Technically no. Kansas City has a metro area population of 2.1 million people . . . but in actuality, it’s a “big small town.”
I also tell my daughters this: “You will never regret being nice to people, but you will regret being a jerk.” As you might imagine, I’ve issued my fair share of apologies for things I’ve said and done in the past.
Your reputation precedes you, whether it be your core ethics or your actual work product. People talk, and your reputation could make or break you. In fact, the hiring manager from one of my clients recently told me the names of two specific companies from which NOT to recruit because there was no one there they wanted to hire.
Because in a town of 2.1 million people, a state with a population of 2.9 million people, and a country with a population 327 million people, we are still shockingly all like Kevin Bacon.
With only six degrees of separation between us.