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Six Degrees of Separation…or Less

You may be familiar with the “six degrees of separation” theory—the idea that every person in the world is connected to every other person by six or fewer steps. According to the six degrees theory, every one of an estimated 7.6 billion people in the world can be connected to every other person on the planet through just five other people. It suggests that more connectedness exists between people than we might think.

American playwright John Guare popularized and labeled the concept in his 1990 play Six Degrees of Separation, which served as the basis for a movie of the same name released three years later. Today, this theory arguably finds itself reflected in various social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Regardless of whether six degrees of separation is just another pop culture myth or a fact, the premise that any one person is so closely connected to every other person in the world is an intriguing one, not only in a social context but also in a professional one. 

Networking has always been recognized as the foundation upon which TMA was built. This was confirmed wholeheartedly when TMA underwent its strategic planning process in 2016 and established the association’s core values. It is no surprise that at the top of that list was: “Driving Business: Be the go-to source for industry networking opportunities.” In a time when our professional opportunities are no longer single-sourced from a reliable pool of clients, and with shrinking demand for our services, turnaround professionals are increasingly looking to alternative sources of work outside their traditional client pipelines. Expanding and broadening their professional networks are critical factors toward that objective.

Anyone who attended TMA’s Distressed Investing Conference in Las Vegas in February can attest to just how successful TMA is at providing superior networking opportunities. We had a record 738 attendees representing 39 chapters around the world, including Australia, Brazil, Finland, Italy, Romania, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, and 263 first-time attendees, providing a sea of new opportunities for networking and making connections.

While nothing can replace one-on-one, in-person networking, the proliferation of technology, the internet, and social media have also opened new platforms that supplement more traditional modes of networking. We are surrounded by social media applications that are intended to facilitate connections, old and new. To ensure that our members have access to new and innovative networking platforms and opportunities, TMA introduced TMAConnect last year as an additional vehicle for making connections. To date, more than 1,000 members have taken advantage of this new tool in their networking toolbox.

All of these tools help bring us together and uncover our shared professional interests, experiences, and expertise, which transcend local and national borders. Despite recent political movements toward nationalism and less globalism, the trend in our social and professional lives is to broaden our opportunities through effective networking to narrow those six degrees of separation.  

Milly Chow, 2017 TMA Global President

Milly Chow

Blakes Cassels & Graydon LLP

Milly Chow is a partner with Blakes Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto and served as the 2017 TMA Global President and 2018 TMA Global Chair.

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