Member Spotlight: Emily Merrell
Networking is all about connecting with and meeting people with similar passions, creative minds, amazing visions, admirable leaderships, and much more. We had the pleasure of interviewing Emily Merrell, founder of the Six Degrees Society, an amazing women's network that allows millennial young professionals to connect with each other.
1. Hello Emily, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I love figuring out people’s stories and understanding what makes someone tick. I try to find the good in most situations and some people find me absolutely annoying with the amount I smile. I naturally look to connect people and founded a women’s networking company called Six Degrees Society, that makes connecting easier, more authentic and fun! Our events range from fireside chats, panels, workshops, crafts and more! You could say I bottled up my personality and made it into a company.
2. Why did you choose to enter marketing and event planning?
I’ve always been a planner so marketing and event planning was a natural fit for me. After college I moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina and ended up working for an incredible trip planning agency called BA Cultural Concierge which was my first step into better understanding how to market a brand to the customer, hook them and plan an exceptional experience for them. From Argentina I landed in NYC and somehow finagled my way into the fashion world planning all sorts of events from store openings to VIP events for some big name fashion brands.
3. What inspired you to create Six Degrees Society, and can you elaborate upon the name?
I have friends from many walks of life that I kept introducing via email and thought there had to be a more efficient and authentic way for people to connect-- these people should already know each other! So I devised a system where rather than walking into an event unprepared, guests all submit bios pre-event. Based on these bios we create handpicked matches off of shared commonalities we see in the bios. Plus, beyond the handpicked connections you’d have the contacts of the other event attendees.
Six Degrees Society started off as a side hustle or hobby, yet it ultimately merged into monthly events that has since expanded to 10 markets across the country.
The name Six Degrees Society is a play on Six Degrees of Separation, the idea that we’re all connected through 6 connections. Honestly, I think I should have called it Two Degrees Society.
4. How do you think Six Degrees Society has impacted the community?
I think it’s helped drop the invisible walls between women. Meaning the competitive and cattiness closely associated to women’s behaviors around one another is not welcome at Six Degrees Society. By creating curated matches for individuals and bios pre-event, guests have the opportunity to pre-read about their matches and all the attendees in the room and it’s helped humanize each person rather than judge someone based on looks.
5. What do you look for when selecting candidates for the society?
We don’t have a screening process with Six Degrees Society. Since most of our growth has happened through word of mouth and through friends of friends our members are “pre-vetted” by the community. The beauty of this process is that it draws people from all industries and backgrounds.
6. What are your experiences with networking?
I’ve always believed in the power of networking. From landing my very first role in fashion to starting Six Degrees Society, networking has been essential to my journey. However, not all networking experiences are created equally. I’ve had moments where networking felt intimidating, transactional and one-sided.
I think networking should be approached with an open mind rather than a specific goal. I always say, “build your network when you don’t need it, and tap it when you do.”
7. How has having a strong network of women helped you?
Women have been nothing but supportive since the creation of Six Degrees Society. In a way it’s been like a giant game of telephone, with people constantly connecting me to people I should me. I’ve been able to lean on my network for advice, support, help and so much more. I generally think we all want to help each other out and my success is related to their success. I love helping others find jobs, figure out their career shift and pin-point passions. I wouldn’t be this far along if it wasn’t for the women in my life.
8. Seeing as you are constantly traveling for work, what are some tips for people who work on the go?
Save everything to the cloud! I once had to go straight from a vacation to an event in Chicago and hadn’t traveled with my computer. Fortunately I was able to access everything I needed through Google Docs on a friend’s computer!
I also HIGHLY recommend getting a backpack. Since I’m always on the go, I recently made the switch to a Dagne Dover neoprene backpack and could not be happier (nor could my back!).
When in a new city I like to do some research in advance on where I can work. Croissant has been incredible on granting me access to so many cool spaces I otherwise wouldn’t have found on my own.
9. Do you have a woman entrepreneur/leader you find very inspiring? why?
I find Jaclyn Johnson, the Founder of Create & Cultivate super inspiring! She built such a well recognized brand and experience that she was able to replicate flawlessly in multiple cities. I also really admire Gesche Haas, Founder of Dreamers and Doers. She’s created a dedicated online community that has grown to be a collective of women that love helping each other out. Both women are pioneers of a female focused movement that is just getting started.
10. Moving forward, what are your future goals for Six Degrees Society?
To expand our offerings to reach a vaster audience through podcasts, webinars and videos. We’d also love to expand to more cities like Austin, Dallas, Denver and Seattle as well as have an international presence!
Thank you so much for your time Emily! Six Degrees Society has truly reshaped the way in which leading women and rising young professionals can grow and connect with each other. This is truly a great community to be a part of. To learn more, please visit the Six Degrees Society website, instagram, and facebook!