Mark Granovetter, an American sociologist, performed a study in 1974, which was then published in his book that became a classic, “Getting A Job.” He studied hundreds of professional and technical workers that lived in a Boston suburb. He discovered that 56% of people in this community who found jobs, found them through a personal connection. 18.8% found their jobs through formal means, newspaper classifieds, advertisements, headhunters, etc. And roughly another 20% applied for their jobs directly.
This is not surprising. The best way to get in the door is always through a personal connection. Granovetter found that of these personal connections, the majority were weak ties. Of those that used a contact to find a job, only 16% saw that contact often. 55.6% saw their contact only occasionally, and 28% saw their contact rarely. People weren’t getting their jobs through their closest and dearest friends. They were getting them through their acquaintances. What’s the point?
When it comes to getting information, leads, ideas, and business connections, weak ties are frequently better than strong ties. Afterall, your friends occupy the same world that you do. They might work with you, or live near you, and go to the same churches, schools and parties. How much then would they know that you don’t already know? On the other hand, your acquaintances occupy a very different world than you. They’re much more likely to know something or someone that you do not.
To capture this apparent paradox, Granovetter coined the phrase, “The Strength In Weak Ties.” The more acquaintances you have, the more powerful you become, especially in your business position. Understand the importance of familiarity, and ties to other connectors. Don’t underestimate the power of relationships, even the seemingly insignificant ones.