Back in 1963, Harvard social psychologist Stanley Milgram performed an interesting experiment. Building on earlier ideas about social networks by Michael Gurevich, a PhD student at MIT, Milgram performed a number of experiments where he sent packages to randomly selected individuals. The package included instructions asking them to forward it to a particular “target person”, but with the following proviso –
If you do not know the target person on a personal basis, do not try to contact him directly. Instead, mail this folder to a personal acquaintance who is more likely than you to know the target person.
Participants were also asked to return a pre-paid postcard to Harvard, so that the researchers could track the packages. After analysing the data, Milgram concluded that people in the United States are separated by, on average, about six people- the now famous Six Degrees of Separation. Milgram’s work has since been heavily criticised, primarily because most of the packages never arrived – people simply didn’t forward them on at all.
Recent research has seen a remarkable confirmation of the Six Degrees concept. Jure Leskovec of Carnegie Mellon University, and Eric Horvitz of Microsoft Research studied the addresses of 30 billion conversations between more than 240 million people on the Microsoft Messenger network during June, 2006 – the largest social network ever analyzed. The average “degrees of separation”? 6.6
When showing the Amway business plan or doing a followup with a prospect, I often do an exercise where I give the prospect 5 minutes to write down as many names as they can think of, people they know. Most folk can come up with 40 or 50 names in that time. I then point out that if they can write down 50 names, so can most of those 50 people – a potential network of 2500. And they too can write down 50 names, giving a network of 125,000. And so on, and so on. I believe that in most Amway markets, 100 to 200 people registering as IBOs is usally enough to generate a Platinum sized business, which in the US averages around $50,000/yr income. In only three degrees of separation we’ve identified a potential network of 125,000 people. Who doesn’t think you can find, among 125,000 people, 100 to 200 who’d be interested in using and/or marketing top of the range health and beauty products? What about in six degrees?
You and I and everyone else are, on average, less than 7 people away from sponsoring virtually anyone on the planet into the Amway business. No matter what’s happening in your town, or your market, there is no doubt that over the next year there will be people who join Amway and go on to become Platinums, Emeralds, Diamonds, even Crown Ambassadors.
They’re in your social network now, on average less than 7 steps away. The question is – whose Amway network are they going to be in?
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