How the “Kevin Bacon Effect” Got Me in a Room With Kevin Bacon

APC KB Group SelfieThough I’ve referenced it a few times, I can’t take credit for the comparison of Military Spouses and Kevin Bacon.  I don’t remember for sure who said it to me first, but I think it was my friend Patie.  We were discussing how Military Spouses already have somewhat of a pre-established network if given the structure and opportunity to use it effectively.  She said,

[quote]Seriously, Kevin Bacon has nothing on a Military Spouse.[/quote]

I laughed, but it stuck with me.

It’s true; when you meet a new military spouse, how many degrees does it usually take to connect them to someone else you know?

I would bet most of the time it’s less than six.

Armed with that concept, I have repeatedly encouraged Military Spouses (especially those looking for a job) to talk to everyone they know about their goals because someone will know someone that knows someone and “Kevin Bacon!  You’ve got a job.”  Little did I know putting that concept into practice in my own life would actually get me in a room with Kevin Bacon.

Here’s what happened:

When I took my current job with In Gear Career last year (which I got by networking, be-tee-dubs), my goal was to increase our reach nationally by expanding chapters, but I also wanted to create a firm base for us in Tampa, FL where we are headquartered.  I encourage each of our chapter leads to build a relationship within the community they are living, but I knew that was especially important here because no matter how many times I move, the organization itself is registered, and will remain rooted in Florida.

With that in mind, I began attending Chamber of Commerce events and accepting any offers of introduction.

Did I want to meet the veterans’ advocate at Bank of America?  Yep!

How about the woman that runs a restaurant in downtown that gives discounts to military? You betcha!

I seriously told the story of In Gear Career and what we’re doing for Military Spouses so many times I’m surprised my son’s first words weren’t “networking” or “career-minded.”

One such offer for an introduction invited me to meet with a local business owner who ran a government consulting firm.  After meeting with him, he not only talked to me about hiring a military spouse for his firm (which he did), but he also offered introductions to others in the community.  The introduction he offered that is relevant to this story was to another nonprofit professional, Jamie.  Jamie and I have become friends and colleagues and she is always first to alert me of opportunities for In Gear Career to get involved in the community.

The latest event she encouraged me to join is something called Give Day Tampa Bay: A partnership between the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, the Florida NEXT Foundation, and hundreds (if not thousands) of donors from every neighborhood in our community will come together on a single day to raise significant funds for local needs.

By now you’re probably saying, “Seriously, lady; what does this have to do with Kevin Bacon?!”


Earlier this month, as part of the Give Day Tampa Bay training series, I was attending a course on fundraising when they told us we would have a special guest speaker.  The other 20 or so nonprofit employees in the room started whispering a bit, but I can guarantee you we weren’t ready when we looked to the door and saw KEVIN BACON walking in the room!  To say we were surprised is a bit of an understatement. (Across the room stood Jamie, beaming knowingly. She had loved an earlier article where I referenced the “Kevin Bacon Effect” for Military Spouses.)

As it turns out, Kevin (It’s ok if I use his first name since I’m officially one degree away now, right?) was in town to speak at the University of South Florida, and through his own really cool philanthropic organization, Six Degrees, arranged to do a celebrity pop-in to thank the non-profit organizations in attendance for their hard work and to bring attention to the efforts of Give Day Tampa Bay.  He was incredibly gracious and kind, and it was obvious he really wanted to use his resources as a celebrity to bring attention to the many organizations doing good work in our communities.  I attended his lecture at USF as well and he also took the time to mention Give Day Tampa Bay and encouraged the attendees to look into the event and give back.

I can’t promise each of you that actively pursuing your goals and telling the story of those goals over and over will get you in the same room as Kevin Bacon (I wish!). I can tell you, however, if you take a chance on yourself and put yourself and your goals out there, the connections you make are very likely to take you to places you couldn’t have expected at that first meeting. So share your goals with someone you meet today–hopefully they’ll know someone that knows someone that…well, you know!


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