If you didn’t believe that we humans are connected before COVID-19, you should now.
As you know, the virus has been transmitting itself exponentially through populations around the world. The only thing that has slowed its progress has been implementing some form of social distancing.
Social distancing is all about breaking the social network.
Viruses need to transmit themselves from person to person to survive. They need to feed off hosts cells or they will die.
The same human connections that lets a virus spread and wreak havoc for us physically can bring some very good results . These same social networks can transmit information and ideas. In this case the transmission can be done without physical contact, telephone, Zoom etc.
One piece of information that can be transmitted through a human network is the idea to use your product or service. If you’re a sales person, business owner, or marketer, your job is to facilitate this transmission. If we assume your product serves people and helps them prosper in the world then by aiding this transmission, you are doing a good thing.
Dunbar for good
There’s a professor of psychology at Oxford University called Robin Dunbar and his research helped quantify just how connected we are.
Professor Dunbar figured out that we humans have about 150 relationships we can maintain (this number should be higher for sales people and entrepreneurs actively involved in developing their business.)
If you know 150 people and each of your connections (“first degree connections”) knows 150 people then you can be referred to 150 x 150 people = 22,500 people (your “second degree connections” in Linkedin language.)
This network effect is a large part of the reason the COVID virus has spread so rapidly. If you have the virus (and let’s say you are asymptomatic so you don’t know you have it) if you interact with 10 people at a party, then they interact with 10 people at a family get together etc. Now from one person 100 people have the chance to be infected. From there it only takes one more degree of connectivity to have 1,000 people with the chance of being infected from just one person.
Trust changes everything
If you’ve done any selling at all, you know that referrals work way more effectively than cold calls. This is because of trust.
When a friend tells me that I should speak to you, I usually do. I do it because my friend is vouching for you. If I don’t do it, then I risk meeting my friend on the next social Zoom call and having my friend asking how I got on with you. If I say I didn’t take your call, I risk making my friend think I am a serious plonker.
This trust makes people open to receiving your message. It’s like people not wearing protective equipment or masks and hanging up 2 feet apart. Trust allows your information, your idea, your product or service, to spread from person to person effectively. It helps you sell your product.
Lack of trust has the opposite effect. When you cold call out of the blue, I have no idea who you are (unless you have executed some top-notch marketing campaigns to educate me to you and your brand.)
If I don’t know who you are, I don’t trust you. There are too many scary things in the world that we hear about every day. If I don’t know you, I don’t trust you.
We have developed many defenses to keep untrusted people out. Voice mail, spam filters, the delete button on our computers and phones. These keep your message from getting through to us . Your chances of getting through this way are very very slim.
When you use a referral, trust comes to your aid. The chance of your message getting through goes up many times.
If your product serves people well that message can even get transmitted from one happy customer to another. Under those circumstances your business will grow “virally” and do a lot of good for the world, and you, in the process.