I’ve been a social scientist since I was 10 and had to move from Cleveland, Ohio, a relatively big city to a much smaller town in Ohio called Ashland. In Ashland I had to make new friends. That’s where I began learning about why creating weak ties as they are called in the networked world by social scientists.
But for those of you who are not social scientists and would like to know more about the benefits here and take advantage of this science I’ll share the reasons and simple first steps to attaining a weak tie network.
Weak ties are all those “friends” you have on Facebook that you don’t know well or at all or those many LinkedIn folks who ask to connect with you that you may have never met or those strangers following you on Twitter. In my world and many other savvy peoples’ worlds these people are our potential customers, potential alliance partners and potential friends.
My son, Graham, once said to me, “Mom, I never want as many friends as you have!” I never thought much about the large number of friends I made up to that point but from that comment made over a decade ago I was more observant of who I connected with and how I connected to them.
In their great book “Superconnect,” authors Koch and Lockwood, also social scientists, point out the power of people who are good at making weak tie connections. They share that the ability to make these connections and make them well is a very useful and sought after skill in out digital world today. These are the people who can turn strangers into friends, who can persuade large numbers of people to switch from one brand to another, who can innovate new products or services faster and better.
I remember it was more than 10 years ago when Larry Mohl, my co-author on our next book, “Networking is Dead,”was, at that time the head of leadership for the cellular division, shared that Motorola had started to put these connection skills as one of the skill sets they would assess in their management teams.
It’s been a number of years since that conversation. Sadly not a lot has changed inside companies. But that is starting to change and my prediction is that as more and more companies start to realize that their employees have great potential to become their brand “superconnectors,” they will harness a huge power that is sitting right in their own offices.
So now that I have shared WHY to connect, next post I’ll share more of the how.