The Power of Weak Ties

I was recently taking a networking course where the instructor ran through everything from the power of striking conversation to the power of a strong social media strategy; ya know, typical networking shenanigans.  But what really caught my attention was when he shared a situation and asked us in the class to tell him which situation would more likely result in a job…it went something like this:

Situation #1: Rob has been working in finance for 15 years. He was recently laid off so reached out to all of his best friends, family, and finance colleagues to let them know he was job hunting and looking for XYZ. They all said they would keep their eyes out.

Situation #2: Rob has been working in finance for 15 years. He was recently laid off and dropping his daughter off at pre-school when he ran into his daughter’s best friend’s dad who was a lawyer. He mentioned he just got laid off and was job hunting looking for XYZ so his daughter’s best friend’s dad said he would keep his eyes out.

Which situation is more likely to result in a job?

Well what I forgot to mention was that the instructor also ran through the power of weak ties.  Situation #2 is more likely to result in a job because his daughter’s best friend’s dad is going to be reaching out to people that are not in Rob’s network.  People that he wouldn’t even think to go to.

I know the idea of weak ties being more powerful than strong ones is a pretty old sociology theory, but it truly did catch my attention.

About 10 years ago I started hearing people say “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.  While that still holds incredibly true, it’s more like “it’s not who you know-know, it’s who you know”.  People aren’t getting jobs through their best friends; they’re getting jobs through their acquaintances.

How do you think this is going to change in the next five years?

I think it will become more vital to have those weak ties – those Twitter followers who you interact with every so often and that Facebook friend that likes the pictures of your dog every time you post them; they’re the weak ties you’ll want to hang onto.

These weak ties have a network you aren’t familiar with:  A network full of unique opportunities, unknown connections, and exclusive information that you cannot get from your current network of close dots.

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