by Teri Fritsma
When networking, consider this: it’s probably not your closest friends or family that will do you the most good. Usually, it’s their friends, or their friends’ friends, that are likely to bring you the best leads.
This idea isn’t new. It’s from a theory called the strength of weak ties, which says that our weak social ties — not our strong ones — benefit us the most when we’re job hunting. Why? Because our strong ties (our closest friends) tend to be similar to us and have access to the same information we do. Our weak ties (our friends’ friends, and their friends) run in different circles, know different people, and can bring tips or leads that we might not otherwise have heard. So, while your brother may not know of any job leads in your field, his coworker’s cousin might.
That’s one advantage of online tools like LinkedIn and Facebook — they make it easy to expand your network far beyond your closest friends and contacts. (Of course, with larger networks comes less privacy, which is something else to consider when using tools like these.)
Whether you expand your network on the internet or in more old-fashioned ways probably doesn’t matter much. The point is to cultivate relationships with people outside your close group of contacts, because the more you do, the more likely to are to come in contact with people who can really help you.