The New Era of Weak Ties

Posted by on Oct 14, 2010 in Organizational Leadership

If you think about it, networks have never been bigger. Without the innovation of social networking, your knowledge of acquaintances would be much more restricted. But does your connection with various acquaintances matter? Research says it  does.  

In the 1970’s Mark Granovetter published an article about “The Strength of Weak Ties”. He explores the impact of relationships that are more superficial (have more breadth than depth).

Granovetter hypothesized that weak ties can help you spread information, tap into multiple networks and experience mobility between these networks. Strong ties (a best friend)  tend to limit your connections because often times you know the same people or want the same things.

Think about the recent grad who formed a weak tie with an alumnus from 1980 at a Meet and Greet. That tie can bring a reference, a connection to a company, or, at the least, a free drink.

Although this sociological theory was before the inception of the internet, think about the implications of this theory with the Internet as a factor. Let’s limit our focus to Linkedin and Twitter. These two websites function with the idea that weak ties bring people together. LinkedIn shows you the tiers of connections you have with a profile you are viewing. You can be introduced with professionals via a common connection. With a little gumption, your old professor could introduce you to a potential boss- without  meeting face to face.

One way Twitter brings people together through hashtags. #HAPPO stands for Help a PR Pro Out. Different PR professionals post jobs and oppotunities within the public relations field. The goal is to help people with common interests and career goals. One tweet with the #HAPPO hashtag could contain a job post.  You may not personally know who was behind the tweet, but your weak tie via hashtag can have a great impact on the lives of those following.

The opportunity of weak ties is now more accessible than ever. Who could have thought that technology would redefine the idea of a weak tie?  The next question is: How do you take full advantage of what they have to offer?

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