This past month has been jam-packed with content creation, business growth, and building wonderful relationships with awesome new people. One of the coolest people I’ve gotten to know is Emily Merrell, and once we started chatting, I knew I had to introduce her to you!
Emily and I aren’t exactly sure how our paths first crossed (we suspect from being active in the amazing tribe of Create and Cultivate women). After subscribing to The Leading Lady and replying to an email I wrote, our friendship took of like a rocket and we haven’t looked back.
As founder of Six Degrees Society, Emily knows a thing or two about relationship-building. In fact, her entire business concept is grounded in it! She and her team host curated networking events for boss babes all across the country. Coupled with industry leaders sharing empowering wisdom for attendees, these are events that’ll level up your biz prowess while helping you start great friendships.
Emily and I are both crazy in love with building strong relationships with those around us, so I asked her to share her insight and advice with you. Ok friends, let’s meet Emily. 🙂
Hello my friend! So great to get to chat. Why don’t you start by sharing a bit about how you started Six Degrees Society and your passion behind it.
Six Degrees Society started as night in the market for connecting genuinely. I’ve been a people collector throughout my life and have always been a natural connector. When working in the fashion industry, I really struggled with the fact that when you showed up for a networking event the first question asked of you was “What do you do?” and the conversation would focus almost exclusively on where you work. I thought networking shouldn’t leave you with a icky transactional feeling but rather a feeling of empowerment.
So I devised a way where my attendees get the bios/job titles/companies/emails of all the attendees pre-event for the opportunity to check out who they are before they get to the event. Additionally, each individual gets 2 matches for 15 minutes each hand-picked just for them. This system helps eliminate the awkwardness associated with networking and meeting new people or attending events alone.
The networking was only one part of the equation. I was also really interested in learning more beyond my job and thought that learning shouldn’t happen alone or cost a lot of money. So every week our events have a panel, workshop, or activity with a personal or professional focus. I love that the community has the opportunity to grow and learn together.
When it comes to championing strong, genuine relationships, you and I are total twins! Can you share why you believe they’re so important?
From a young age I’ve always had a need to know people’s stories and help them solve their problems. Sometimes problems are solved as easily as making the right introduction. I think being a giver is super important in building these relationships. I’m still blown away by how many people I meet that ask me “how can I help you?” I’m a huge believer that it’s important to build your network when you don’t need anything and tap it when you do. Relationships need to be nurtured and fed and developed and it’s important to build them up to support you in tough times.
What role does relationship-building play in growing your own business?
My entire business wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the relationships I maintained. It was these relationships that pushed me along to see my hobby as a business and pointed me in the right direction when I had no clue what I was doing.
As I plan events and scale markets, I always make sure to communicate to people what it is I’m doing and plant seeds that usually lead to future events.
Do you have (or have you had in the past) any struggles, obstacles or fears you’ve had to overcome when it comes to meeting and talking with new people?
I’m still hyper anxious that I’m talking too much, too fast, telling too many jokes, coming on too strong etc. I literally have to shut that side of my brain OFF or I’ll overthink every interaction I have.
I also try really hard to be ME. That includes bad sarcasm, cursing, etc. Again, like dating I think you should be your genuine self right out the gate.
You’re constantly traveling, hosting/attending events and meeting new people. I’d love for you to share some advice for gals with social anxiety or who feel awkward when trying to connect!
It’s a two way street. All the awkwardness you are feeling is felt by others. Be in charge of the conversation and in control of the meeting. Be the person to initiate introducing yourself and set others at ease. Give someone a genuine compliment to get the ball rolling. Meeting friends/networking is a bit like dating. You need to have an opening line. But most importantly, remember to stay genuine. No fake niceness– be nice because you want to be.
Couldn’t agree more. Ok, it’s time to dish! What are some of your favorite ways to strike up a conversation with someone new? Go-to places to make new friends? Craziest “meeting someone new” story?
I think every moment in your life could be defined as a “networking opportunity.” I’ve met friends in uber pools, workout classes, walking my dog, you name it. My absolute rule of thumb is to BE OPEN. Smile at people, be approachable and don’t nip conversations in the bud unless you’re truly not in the mood to talk or think the person is off their hinges.
My favorite way to strike up a conversation is by giving a compliment for example the complement can be on a pair of yoga pants at a work out class, a phone case, an adorable dog at the dog park or even commenting on food someone is eating — like “What did you get? I can’t decide.”
I don’t have one go-to place to make friends but it honestly happens every single day in all different types of scenarios. However, my advice would be to do the activities you love and through those activities you’ll meet like minded individuals that will turn into friends.
Lastly put yourself out there, make a plan and put all of your chit chat into action. Make sure to exchange emails/phone numbers and remember to follow up!
One of the craziest meeting stories was being in an Uber pool with a classical guitarist in LA. A few days later the person we were partnering with for an event wanted a guitarist and I was able to call him up and have him perform at the event.
See, ladies? Told you she was awesome! Emily is a great example of someone who’s diving into building strong, genuine connections and then not only helping her new friends succeed, but absolutely thriving herself.
Business (and life) can’t get much better than that.
If you’d like to learn more about Six Degrees Society, their community and future events, check out their website and connect with them on Instagram and Facebook!