The Strength of the Weak Tie
Watching people is a hobby of mine; it amazes me how people drift through life pretending to be isolated individuals. We keep to ourselves, have few friends, and hide behind the walls that we think are keeping us safe. Ask any individual if he/she wants to be successful and the answer will invariably be “YES!” How about you? Do you want to be successful in any small or large way? If you answered in the negative then you can close this document now and go and get your pulse checked. To love life is to want to succeed according to your own definition of success.
Wanting to be successful doesn’t always lead to being successful though, as I am sure you are finding out. So what is it that makes some people succeed and others stay put? Lots of reasons I am sure but one thing that certainly makes a huge difference is what sociologist Mark Granovetter called “The strength of weak ties”. As pointed out by Malcolm Gladwell in his book “The Tipping Point” it’s not the close relationships that lead us to success but the weak ties we form with people as we go through life.
Weak ties? Let me give you a personal example. When the time came for me to upgrade my phone I wanted to downgrade my account and still get the phone I wanted for “free”. No problem there. The provider I chose didn’t have stock so I went to the competition that did – no problem. I have learnt to form weak ties so I got chatting to the sales rep, asked her name and where she was from ,cracked a joke or two, and when the process did hit a snag (something that I was supposed to do myself) she was only too happy to get on the phone and sort it out. To top it off she waived the charge for a new sim card and said “You are a nice customer.” Everywhere I go I get great service. Why? I form weak ties.
Here is another example from Gladwell’s book,
“In his classic 1974 study Getting a Job, Granovetter looked at several hundred professional and technical workers from the Boston suburb of Newton, interviewing them in some detail on their employment history. He found that 56 percent of those he talked to found their job through a personal connection. Another 18.8 percent used formal means—advertisements, headhunters—and roughly 20 percent applied directly. This much is not surprising; the best way to get in the door is through a personal contact. But, curiously, Granovetter found that of those personal connections, the majority were “weak ties.” Of those who used a contact to find a job, only 16.7 percent saw that contact “often”—as they would if the contact were a good friend—and 55.6 percent saw their contact only “occasionally.” Twenty eight percent saw the contact “rarely.” People weren’t getting their jobs through their friends. They were getting them through their acquaintances.”
The world revolves around weak ties, and the person who learns to forge them inherits it. That’s how it seems to me. For some people it’s a walk in the park, smiling at and chatting to strangers is easy, but for others it requires significant change. It’s a change in an area that scares most people to death. Public speaking ranked 6 out of the top ten fears in a study released by Discovery Health; it’s up there with snakes and getting buried alive. For the same reason we are terrified of talking to strangers.
Change is necessary if you want to be successful. There is a systems law called the “law of requisite variety” which states “the sub system within a system with the greatest flexibility of behaviour will control the system”, forming weak ties is skill that can be learned. The more you learn the greater your influence. Learning this one simple skill will give you an unfair advantage, almost nobody does it. I do advise starting small, you are, after all, dealing with your comfort zone. Try asking the person you are dealing with their name, comment about the weather to a stranger in a queue, or get some personal information, like a birthday, from a colleague you never speak to then give them a card on their birthday, in such ways are weak ties forged. You will be amazed how everyone treats you better when you start doing this.
You will generally find that very successful people have a few close friends but lots of acquaintances, the opposite is true for not so successful people – they have a few strong ties but few if no weak ties. This is what the whole idea of network marketing is about. Those who succeed are those who understand that it is about making weak ties and not about sales. It is the difference between making one sale and making a hundred. You might not sell to the person with whom you make the weak tie, but you might end up selling to the 100 people they know.
Let’s face it, life is about network marketing and the product is you. Spend less time trying to sell “yourself” and start buying into other people in small ways. That would be like getting your money to work for you instead of you working for your money.
Forming weak ties makes you memorable. So few people do it that it really makes you stand out. I get a wave every time I walk past the mobile phone store and I know that if I ever need help with my contract I will get fantastic service. What is amazing is that I know people who deal with the same store and say that the service there is lousy, I just say “Speak to so and so and tell her that I sent you”. The strength of the weak tie.
Why not visit me on my site ww.imagineif.co.za or tune into my weekly radio show on http://www.blogtalkradio.com/zeronaughts
Posted on June 24, 2013, in Law of Attraction, Life Coaching, Peace, Personal Power and tagged Advice, business, Goal, happiness, healthy-living, help, inspiration, Interpersonal relationship, Intimate relationship, life coaching, mental-health, Motivation, Peace, relationship, relationships, Self-Help, Single person, Unconscious mind. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.