Before computers, 196 people in Nebraska were sent a package and asked to forward it to anyone who might be able get it closer to a named stockbroker living near Boston. All they had was a name, an occupation, and a very general location. Milgram, a researcher, assumed: 1. Nebraskans know no one in Boston, 2. they would never complete the task. Amazingly, those Nebraskans eventually got the packages to the stockbroker.
It took an average of 5 mailings to get each package to the right place. Each mailing was to someone they thought might be closer to the final intended recipient. That step is called a degree of separation. This experiment is the basis that people use to claim you can get to anyone in the world in 6 steps.
Here is some more information that makes this study usable in a job search, sales or your career.
Milgram stacked the deck in his studies. In previous experiments, lower income people often ended sending chains. Milgram recruited higher income people to start these chains. He made the package as impressive as possible by using a fancy Harvard document richly signed. He asked each person in each step to send a reply card to him to track progress. This was an experiment in getting strangers to help.
Tomorrow I will show you how I have been using these facts and results to expand my network effectiveness dramatically.
Something To Do Today
Go over your network list. Who do you know. How many people do you know. Tomorrow I will show you how to dramatically increase your network effectiveness.
You might have fun reading about Milgram’s studies. This article is the closest to the original documents that I can find. Wikipedia has information on the the different iterations of the experiment.