Facebook connections NEVER cease to amaze me. I remember when I first joined, several years ago, and started finding out that people I knew in high school knew people I knew in college – but back then, we had no idea. It’s only now, when we look at mutual friends that we realize our sorority sister married a guy who went to high school with someone we knew from a youth organization… or something like that. And time after time it happens. And time after time I’m surprised and amazed.
So it shouldn’t have actually shocked me when it happened again last week. But it did. And it wasn’t just because of a relationship I have on Facebook, it was because of Facebook, itself. Allow me to explain.
Have you ever visited TED.com? In a nutshell, TED offers all of us a way to get inspired by some of the world’s greatest public speakers by posting their presentations on their site. One of those presentations I’ve watched over and over again. It’s by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and it relates to women in business – why there not enough of them at the top and how to get there – should you choose to do so. If you haven’t seen it, take a few minutes and watch it. No matter your career goals (corner office, entrepreneurship or none at all), this will inspire you to get to where you want to go in your life. I promise.
See? Told you.
So about a week ago, one of my clients, a national board member from the National Association of Women MBAs called and said she’d seen that video and could we possibly get the COO of Facebook to be the keynote speaker for their September conference in Dallas? And… she said… if I could get to her via social media tools, she’d buy me a ticket to go to the conference and meet her.
Say no more. I immediately went to wikipedia and searched for Sheryl Sandberg. I started reading how she is from North Miami Beach, FL (NMB as its commonly known by those of us who went to the University of Florida) and that she went to Harvard University. I kept reading. She has a different last name than her husband. So… Sandberg is her maiden name. And then it clicked. I’m two degrees away from knowing the COO of Facebook.
Stay with me. I’ll explain.
When I was a kid, I went to summer camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Because the winter offices of the camp are located in South Florida, lots of kids from Florida attend the camp as well. I’m still in touch with many of my summer camp friends – even moreso now that Facebook has facilitated our reconnecting. One girl with whom I lost touch was a Michelle Sandberg. Years later, hanging out in the dorms, I started playing the “do you know” game with my new friend, Pami. Pami knew Michelle from high school (they were both from NMB) and she told me that Michelle followed her siblings to Harvard. And that was it, we probably never brought her up again. That was 1991.
Flash forward to 2011. I’m realizing that I may actually have a connection to Sheryl Sandberg. I immediately texted Pami to find out… “Is Michelle Sandberg’s sister the COO of Facebook?” I simply asked. She wrote back, “Yes.” So I searched for Michelle on Facebook, friend requested her and sent a very long, convoluted email to her asking if there was any way in the world she could connect me to her sister. After first checking with her sister, she was kind enough to do so.
I contacted Sheryl directly and – she wrote me back!
Not that many years ago, doing this kind of research and getting a response from people would have taken weeks… maybe even months. This entire process happened within 24 hours.
Unfortunately for NAWMBA (and me), Sheryl is already booked the week of their conference, but the organization is working with Facebook to find a different speaker.
It just goes to show, you never really know how many degrees of separation you are from someone. And now, I consider myself only 1 degree away from this amazing woman.by