3Degrees is based on a gut reaction.
When we meet people for the first time, sometimes things just click. A smile or look sparks a natural conversation, and a relationship is off and running. But sometimes they don’t. Meeting people can be stressful, forcing us out of our comfort zones. An initial awkward moment can feel disastrous, even though it’s usually far worse in our minds. To avoid this, we like to create little movie trailers of our lives when we meet new people. We rattle off interests and experiences, hoping something will resonate and the “spark moment” will occur.
When one of those interests does click, the stress is broken. Both parties collectively exhale, and the tone of the conversation is drastically altered. “You like the Yankees?? I like the Yankees!,” or, “you worked at Merrill? I used to work at Bear, let’s talk about that!” These small coincidences and personality traits immediately establish a base level of credibility, and we subconsciously break down our walls. People LOVE meeting new people. It’s exciting, enriches our lives, and keeps things interesting; but sometimes it’s difficult to get the ball rolling.
My gut told me that there was one topic of conversation that trumped every other “coincidence” by a landslide; mutual friends. I felt so strongly about this connection that I dug into my bag of business school tricks and created some Smart Art (see right). Some variation of “You went to Tulane? Do you know Jimmy?” is one of the most powerful sentences in the English language. The psychological theory that loosely applies here is called Social Proof.
Basically, if someone you are friends with is friends with Jimmy, it reaffirms your decision to like them too. The closer a friend Jimmy is to ONE of you, the quicker and stronger this bond is made. A quick anecdote or two will be exchanged, and the conversation barrels on towards where you grew up/went to school/work. Lull in the conversation? Bring up a Jimmy story. It’s fool proof.
If things went well, you call Jimmy the next day about your chance encounter. If things go really well, you may even text him during the conversation, “Hey, here with Linda, she told me you were Darkwing Duck for Halloween every year in middle school!” eliciting the requisite “Awesome, she’s the best, tell her I said hi” response. Social Proof for days.
That’s how relationships start. If you go to a bar you may meet 30 people. The majority of the time, the one you will remember will be the one you had a Jimmy-type exchange with.
That long, rambling intro brings us to 3Degrees.
When I thought about this “Mutual Friend Phenomenon” in March of 2011, I thought -Why can’t we somehow do this online? We’ve all meticulously recorded our friends through Facebook for the last 5-7 years. Our interests are online (Facebook profile/status updates, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, Netflix, Amazon, etc.). Even if we don’t use all of those outlets we can still name the 10 activities we enjoy the most in 5 minutes or less.
The building blocks are in place.
Finally, the majority of relationships -romantic or otherwise- start through a mutual friend. However, this means a friend has to say “hmm, I know Paula, I know Randy, I think they’d get along, why don’t I go out of my way to introduce them?” What is the chance that happens if those people don’t live in the same city? 5%? 2%? But those connections are out there. So much so that when we randomly fall upon a person we share mutual friends with, the connection sticks. Hmmmm….
Why can’t we skip the small talk and get in touch with the people our experiences “click” with? 3Degrees will. And that’s why I built the site. Fun activities and people are out there, we’re just not always participating. And it’s not because we don’t want to – we do.
But it’s hard to put yourself out there. If you want to try yoga, but don’t know anyone who already does yoga, what do you do? You have to find a random class, sign up, drive yourself there, introduce yourself, make an ass out of yourself, and hopefully meet friends in the class. Will you meet friends? Yeah, probably. But what are the chances you actually get out there and do this? Meeting strangers is tough. Doing new activities alone is tough. Putting yourself out there is tough.
3Degrees (hopefully) makes it easy. The idea is to search for people who share your interests, would like this class, and are in your area. Most importantly, these people are backed by the Social Proof of a mutual friend. You could even reach out to the mutual friend for a referral. This could be the beginning of a romantic relationship, a friendship, or anything in between. It makes so much sense it hurts.
People meet people through people. Period. If 3Degrees can make that process easier, everybody wins. I win. You win. Paula and Randy win. And 3Degrees can do this for you. Give the Mutual Friend Phenomenon a chance and meet someone new. It could end up being your future girlfriend, or the guy that plans your bachelor party three years from now. You’ll never know until you sign up and try. www.3degreesnation.com
And if you do, I’ll feel a lot better about betting my mid-late 20s on a gut reaction.