We tend to focus on people we are most comfortable with, the ones we know best. Why? I’m guessing it’s due to a natural fear of rejection from those we don’t know all that well. Instead, we take the sure bet of our close connections, even if the payoff is low.
I hear this question asked at least once a week in the Q&A portion of my Resume Revolution Webinar participants regularly ask something like “How can I talk to employees of a company, when I don’t know anyone there?”
It’s not just that working through people we don’t know well is hard work. If it was just hard work, but yielded superior results, more candidates would invest their time in their weakest links. Instead, most job seekers spend their time chasing HR reps, recruiters, and if they get brave … hiring managers. It’s not just that they are easy to identify, because HR reps/recruiters/hiring managers can be nearly impossible to reach. But they’re a known quantity, so they appear somehow safer.
Instead, if you knew that you’d have much stronger results by concentrating on your weakest links, such as your 3rd level Linkedin connections, wouldn’t you spend time harvesting them?
This recurring question I get during webinars shows the fear of working with someone new … by definition, the weakest of connections. You’ll see in excerpts from this awesome article, published in FastCompany.com, that your weakest connections contain your greatest payoff. It’s unfortunate that the risk of rejection scares most away from gaining the greatest impact from the weakest connections.
From “The Unexpected Way To Use Your Social Network Strategically”, by Don Peppers:
“… But rather than counting how many moons you have in your network, what you ought to be doing is figuring out how to get the most benefit from the right ones. And despite the hype, my own informal canvassing has convinced me that most of us aren’t very strategic when it comes to the best way to take advantage of the enormous potential of our own social networks.
Suppose, for instance, you want to find a new career. Maybe you’ve recently had a job shot out from under you. Or perhaps you just think you can do better. Everyone knows, of course, that networking is the best way to find out about job openings and career opportunities (as well as most other business opportunities), but is there a smart way to use your network?
Yes there is, and most people aren’t conscious of it. Almost 30 years ago, a landmark study showed conclusively that the best leads for job opportunities are more likely to come from your more distant colleagues and friends, as opposed to your closest ones. This isn’t because your close friends don’t give you good recommendations, but because you and your other close friends are more likely already to know about the same job openings, while the job openings known to your more distant colleagues–those with whom you don’t interact very often–are not as likely to be known to your own friends, or to you.
This principle, known as the “strength of weak ties,” has other strategic applications as well. Two venture capitalists have found, for instance, that investing firms that share information with others regarding potential investment prospects tend to gain access to a wider network of candidates–essentially leveraging their weak network ties, rather than focusing solely on strong ties. They also cite another recent study by other academics that shows VC firms concentrated in the traditional tech centers (Silicon Valley, New York, Boston) do better than other firms primarily because they “cast a wide, public net,” harvesting the results of their weak ties …
… Finally, even if all you’re trying to do is to advance your own career at whatever firm you’re working for, the “weak ties” argument will help you better appreciate which other executives you should be trying to add to your network. It’s long been thought that the best way to get ahead is to hitch your wagon to a senior star, but a University of Chicago business school professor’s book, Neighbor Networks, has debunked this myth. A summary of Prof. Ronald S. Burt’s book suggests “There is no advantage at all to having well-connected friends.” Instead, it is the managers who do the connecting that tend to earn demonstrably higher salaries. This is not because they become linchpins or hubs or gateways to power and information, per se, but rather because managers who maintain contacts in a diverse range of departments are getting a very healthy and intellectually stimulating “exposure to diverse ideas and behaviors.” According to Burt, “the way networks have their effect is not by getting information from people, but rather by finding people who are interesting and who think differently from you,” adding that it isn’t being in the know, “but rather having to translate between different groups so that you develop gifts of analogy, metaphor, and communicating between people who have difficulty communicating to each other.”
So whether you’re interested in a better job, more business clients, or simply more creative ideas, it makes sense to think more strategically about how your network operates, and how you can better operate within it. If you want to be successful, you need to strategize how to make better connections with groups you don’t know much about, or how to craft analogies by combining different disciplines–business success and astronomy, for example.”
From The Unexpected Way To Use Your Social Network Strategically, written by Don Peppers, originally published on FastCompany.com .
So when will you start paying attention to your level 3 Linkedin connections and others you barely know?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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