#74: Six Degrees Of Separation In SF.

#74: Six Degrees Of Separation In SF.

After four hours of networking, hob-knobbing and mingling at the Social Media Club of San Francisco’s  biggest event of the year, “Social Media and the News” last night, I discovered a stark reality about social networking:

The proximity of interacting online and offline in social media is a lot closer than we think. About six degrees of separation closer. By some way of introduction, friend-of-a-friend connection, or chain of six total steps, we were all somehow “Six Degrees of Separation” from the rest of the SF planet.

How could the San Francisco networking world be such a small world, with a population of about 1M people?

Quickly glancing around the crowded social media event at all the shiny, lit-up faces and fashionable outfits that were no doubt just plucked from those expensive fashion racks, my entire social media career perception has shifted in a matter of seconds.

Could I be just a few seats away from the one Mr. Right? One chair over from a new future friend? Joking unassumingly with a Mr. Future CEO Employer? Secretly talking to the next hot-shot social media event promoter?

There was only one way to find out: Test the theory TONIGHT. See how many connections and small-world-coincidences I could find at this  random 200-person social media networking event in downtown San Francisco.

The night was packed with every walk of life from San Francisco’s working world –– Start-up, Fortune 500’s, Nonprofits and Agencies.
The topic of the hour was Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post –– Jeff sold the long-time newspaper to non other than Amazon.
The business cards –– of all shapes, sizes, colors and embossment –– were flying from fingers faster than a deck of cards.
There was an eye-sore of catered farm:to:table hors d’oeuvres and appetizers out on rooftop patio that made for pretty good excuse to step outside, see what was out there and take in the bay views.
The questions were endless, but what everyone was thinking and no one felt like asking.
Best of all: I came not knowing a soul. And I left with countless new connections and a job interview at eBay.

But let’s back up. Let’s start from when the night began –– and how I came to meet Mr. Future Employer.

I arrived knowing only one loose connection –– a former board member from the Social Media Club of Richmond Chapter 3,000 miles away introduced me via LinkedIn to the San Francisco chapter and told me to check out their upcoming networking events. This happened to be the next best networking event I could find.

30 minutes into mingling –– I went from cupping my glass of wine to setting it down in order to shake hands with none other than the President of the SMCSFO, Golden Ashby. He saw my standing off to the side glancing around and wanted to welcome a new face. Turns out he knew 50% of the party from LinkedIn and other networking circles. Glad I didn’t scare him off, he was THE guy to know. He introduced me to 10 more folks, each one with a unique story of their own.

imageOne hour into schmoozing, the crowd was settling down, anxious for the main speaking to begin. We all took our seats and eyes lit up when the five incumbents took their barista stools.

The presenters were five local Bay Area social media experts and influencers who each had a perspective on social media and the news:
Sean Mills, NA Regional Director, Bite Communications,
Joe Roulades, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, LinkedIn Talent Solutions
Kurt Wagner, Social Media Reporter at Mashable,
Alastair Goldfisher, Editor of Venture Capital Journal
Heather Meeker, Co-Founder & Partner of Meeker Quinnimage

Three hours and one winning comical eBay conversation later –– I had my future employer: Ryan, Social Media Manager eBay, Inc. in San Jose, CA. He was there to scope out the social media scene, keep relevant with the latest trends, hear about any new gadgets that he could tout on his eBay Electronics Blog and find a new social media manager to join his team.

He asked if I had electronics experience. I said:

“No, not really, but I had learned after years of social media creation and publishing what made people tick –– even electronics enthusiasts.”

That was the key: transferable social media savvy. We ended up talking for 2 hours that night out on the patio underneath the San Francisco moon (sounds cliche, but 100% true!) about everything under the sun, I mean eBay marketplace. From the latest vintage items selling at auction to the PR team sending him an email about Pharrell wanting an eBay store to an upcoming X-BOX One event I should go to.

Wait –– an interview with the entire eBay social team and an invite to an industry electronics event on his dime? Was this for real, or was he expensing the office account for potential candidates?  Either way I was intrigued and slipped him my business card faster than you could say “eBay Electronics Blog.”

Looks like the “Six Degrees of Separation” theory worked? I met my future employer in 3 steps.

I don’t know if this will happen again, or if the theory holds water everywhere you go, or if you could argue that social media is changing the “Six Degrees” to “Three Degrees”. You can agree to disagree, but I think we can all agree that social media networking is a powerful, underestimated connector.