06 May 2010

The Strength of Weak Ties

"Each contact with a human being is so rare, so precious, one should preserve it."-- Anais Nin.


"The strength of weak ties" is a concept that started from the research from Mark Granovetter that was originally published in book entitled Getting a Job but is also wonderfully illustrated in Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Pointwhich I am currently reading. The idea is that your close friends and family know roughly the same information as you do, but the further out of the circle you go, the more you are likely to encounter new information. This is clearly an important principle when networking and, by extension, job hunting. 

If you just think about "Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon," you can really begin to understand how powerful weak ties become. In my MBA class, we were asked how many steps away from the Dali Lama we were. For me, it was 2 steps. I knew somebody that worked as a server at a fund raiser attended by the Dali Lama. He blessed and kissed my friend. 

The key is to really amplify the weak ties effect. In order to do so, you must face your fears of communicating with "strangers." It can be done in person, through a friend of a friend, by LinkedIn, or many other ways. Another thing to keep in mind when using this as a tool for job searching is that it is impossible to know where the link to success will come from. Opportunities come from unlikely sources, thus it is imperative to keep an open mind and an open heart. 


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