Emily Merrell | Six Degrees Society

Emily Merrell Six Degrees Society

If a dinner party at your coolest girlfriend’s house and speed dating had a baby, it would look something like Six Degrees Society. A networking event without worrying about who to talk to next, or stressing out about finding something in common with the women you meet, or staring at the clock wondering why in the world you washed your hair and changed out of sweatpants for this? We’ll swipe right on that all. day. long.

Welcome to Flock & Gabble, Emily! Tell us a little bit about you, and then tell us how you’d describe Six Degrees Society to someone who’s never heard of it before.

Emily: Thanks for including me in such a great community! I’m what you call a classic Gemini stereotype: I love people and I’m a natural extrovert. I always talked to strangers as a child… my parents were quite worried about my well-being. Editor’s note: Sam talked to trees when she was little. If you were talking to human strangers, you’re ahead of the curve.

Six Degrees Society is a women’s networking group that takes the guesswork out of who you are supposed to meet while networking. As I like to put it, we are the original friends with benefits. At each event, attendees leave with curated connections that are handpicked just for them.

What was your motivation to start Six Degrees Society?

Emily: Six Degrees Society developed very much by accident. I recognized that I had no idea what my smart, beautiful friends did! I reached out to my friends and asked them if they would be interested in coming to a networking event where everyone would go around and learn from one another (“pass the talking wine bottle” sort of thing). Well, 45 people were interested in the first “salon,” so it no longer worked for my teeny NYC apartment – I hosted the event at a bar in Meatpacking. To maximize everyone’s time, I had them send me bios before the event and I created 4 curated matches for each attendee. At the end of the 2 hours, my friends were asking when I was hosting the next event. I hosted monthly programming while working a full-time job in Fashion. It wasn’t until the end of 2015 that I realized this was something I could do full-time.

How do your members connect – what kind of events or other opportunities do you provide, in person or online?

Emily: My members connect IRL! LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram are wonderful resources, but we are losing that in-person experience of connecting. My signature event is speed networking, where attendees walk out with 4 new matches. However, each event has an element of curated networking. It is usually 2 matches followed by a panel, an activity or an experience. Attendees can attend events a la carte, or join as a member to get access to the database of women along with getting a great discount on tickets and free passes for their friends!

Tell us about a time that you almost gave up – your absolute lowest moment since starting Six Degrees Society. What would you say to someone who’s living their absolute lowest moment right now?

Emily: The lowest moment was when I had a full-time job. I started viewing Six Degrees Society as a chore or hassle. Before each networking event, I would get stressed coordinating the details, making the matches, and balancing my corporate job. It wasn’t until I really paused and evaluated what made me happy that I realized it was my full-time job that was giving me the stress. I was spreading myself too thin, and I had to choose one.

My advice to anyone feeling super low is to take the time to assess what happiness means to them. For me, it was always super rewarding to see the energy of others coming together to share ideas, learn from one another or connect in a really unique way. Ultimately choosing this route is the “riskier” path, and I don’t have the security of a corporate job, but I wake up with so much energy and excitement to conquer the day and see how it unfolds!

People have continued to ask me, “Well, aren’t you scared now that you don’t have a stable income?” DUHHHHH! I’m terrified, but to be honest, my fear is mollified by my adrenaline and excitement for what I’m building. I love nothing more than bringing people together, and now I get to do this professionally??? Consider me the biggest cheerleader! I am SO proud of my friends and impressed by the ladies I’ve met in my life, and I want to be that person with a megaphone screaming out their accomplishments to the world. So yes, I’m scared about making money and surviving, but I also trust in the universe working in unexpected ways.

Now, tell us the most awesome, champagne-popping-est story of your journey so far.

Emily: A good friend of mine, Elana Gross, did a career profile on me on her blog called Elana Lyn. It took me dayyyysss before I could bring myself to read my interview. I was so nervous to re-read what I wrote. I was even more anxious about the dreaded comment section. I had 27 comments, and when I finally got the nerve to click through them, they were the nicest words and well wishes I’d ever heard. I sat in my robe on my couch hysterically crying and laughing realizing that I’d never been this happy or moved in my entire life. That was pretty flipping extraordinary to know that I inspired others.

My advice to anyone feeling super low is to take the time to assess what happiness means to them.
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What advice do you have for someone who’s nervous about reaching out to another blogger or creative entrepreneur?

Emily: You have nothing to lose. Again, I’m a natural weirdo and extrovert and literally have very little shame – however, some of my strongest friendships have developed via Instagram or Facebook. Worst comes to worst, you don’t receive an answer, and that is their loss. Or perhaps you will receive an answer, and develop a beautiful friendship and partnership.

What app, tool, or other resource has had the biggest impact on Six Degrees Society in the last year?

Emily: I love the app “When to Gram” – it tells you the best time to get the most likes on your Instagram photos.

Share the best book, blog post, or podcast episode you’ve read or listened to recently.

Emily: I’m obsessed with the book “She Makes It Work: A DIY Guide To Thrive In Your Hustle” by Katie Corcoran. She’s a real boss lady that offers realistic advice to achieve balance in life. Plus, she’s launching a sick podcast called Badass and Bare that I cannot wait to plug into. I also finished the inspiring book “You are a Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness And Start Living An Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero. It was like the book was written to me by a best friend. She straightforward and realistic about the BS we tell ourselves each day, and how to stop self-sabotaging. I HIGHLY recommend it!

What are your biggest, wildest dreams for Six Degrees Society?

Emily: Oh man, this is the first time I’m saying this out loud! My biggest dream is to have a chapter of Six Degrees Society in all major cities throughout the world. In addition to having a chapter I would love to have an actual space in these cities where women can come together and learn. It would be the women’s version of the “old boys club”. It would offer co-working, networking, educational programming, incredible food, classes and spa services. It would be the ultimate resource and retreat for like minded women that want to keep empowering one another.

Time to go all proud mama-bear on us: take a minute to brag on three of your members and the things they’ve accomplished, or times you thought they really embodied the spirit of what Six Degrees Society is all about.

Elana Gross, Elana Lyn Elana is another member that has literally been like a guardian angel! I met her through my friend Katie Schloss (another rockstar!), and Elana has been so incredible at featuring other women on her blog and being an ambassador for the group of ladies. Her unwavering belief in me has been so helpful in moving forward and building the brand that I hope to build.

Carolyn Stine, @carobaker1 Carolyn is my best friend in the world. She’s so insanely positive and helpful and thoughtful – I couldn’t imagine moving forward with this career shift without her in my life. Carolyn is a super talented chef, eater, writer and communicator. She has this drool worthy Instagram account that documents her foodie adventures and travels (I’m her travel/eating partner in crime). When I told her I was quitting my full-time job, she literally had so much faith in me that it wiped away all of my uncertainty about my choice. The best part is that she is such a rock star and doesn’t even know how flipping talented she is.

Lindsay Howard Lindsay is incredible! She literally lit the fire under my arse to make this side-hustle become legit! She had seen an article I had posted on Facebook, and told me how she would love to bring a chapter of Six Degrees Society to Chicago. Despite the fact that she has a full-time job, and is studying for the GMAT, she was so excited to round up her friends and network and get them jazzed about Six Degrees Society. I wouldn’t have been able to do what I’m doing if it wasn’t for Lindsay.

Two Truths & a Lie

I went to the Oscars and almost tripped on Marion Cotillard’s dress.
I had 4 extra adult teeth removed, like a shark!
I walked into a movie premiere by pretending to be Natalie Portman all night.

What’s true, and what’s a lie? We’ll never tell.
Leave your guess in the comments, then scoot over to Emily’s social media channels for the answer!

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