Cultivate Your Weak Ties: 5 Day Networking Plan

This post was originally featured on AYA – a weekly newsletter that curates the best advice for 20somethings and makes it actionable.

AYA Insight #1: Cultivate Your Weak Ties

(In other words, make new acquaintances!)

Description & Why It’s Important

In a seminal 1973 piece that ended up becoming one of the most cited papers in all of sociology, Dr. Mark Granovetter introduced the concept of weak and strong ties.

Put simply, strong ties hold together relationships between a small, core group of friends, while weak ties bring together acquaintances. Granovetter’s research showed that in a population of employed professionals, most of the subjects had found their jobs through weak ties. In other words, your acquaintances were much more likely to enable your career mobility than your  close friends.

Beyond career progression, there are other benefits to developing a strong network of weak ties. By definition, we have strong ties with those whom we spend most of our time with. It’s likely that our strong ties are with people who have similar careers and interests. By introducing more weak ties into your life, you increase the likelihood you’ll be exposed to new, novel information – a critical ingredient for innovation and creativity.

Your Action Plan

My goal with AYA has always been to create intuitive, actionable recommendations for our readers. This week, we’ll leverage some modern technology to establish and foster our weak ties.

I’ve outlined an action plan for this week so that you can easily integrate this insight into your life immediately. Every one of the outlined activities is designed to take 15 minutes or less. If you have questions or comments, email joseph@ayainsight.co.

  • Monday
    Leverage LinkedIn and/or Facebook. Send a note to 3 existing connections/friends in your area. Provide a quick update on your life and ask them how they are. Let each of those interactions evolve into a longer conversation and schedule lunch/coffee with at least one of the people you reached out to.
  • Tuesday
    Ask a close friend or your manager at work to introduce you to someone you’d be able to learn from. (Tip: it’s easiest to do this if you want to meet an expert in a specific area of interest. Say you’re at a consulting firm and want to join the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) practice – ask to be introduced to a Partner in that group)
  • Wednesday
    Download Weave and set up a meeting with a nearby professional. I’m a big fan of their Concierge service as well.
  • Thursday
    Find a local Meetup you’re interested in and make it a point to put it on your calendar and attend. Ideally this week/weekend.
  • Friday
    Friday is reflection day. Catch up on any of the actions from Monday-Thursday if needed. Jot down some thoughts and write to me at joseph@ayainsight.co on how you did.

Also: don’t be disappointed if you hit everything – if you miss one exercise, just focus on doing the next.

If you’re interested in some further reading, I strongly suggest you check out The Strength of Weak Ties, by Mark S. Granovetter.

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