Mark Granovetter – The Strength of Weak Ties


Back in 1970, after extensive research, mostly as it related to ‘job-seekers’, Mark Granovetter, then a Harvard Professor, created a concept he coined, “Weak Ties”.  To explain it better, imagine a typical bow and arrow target complete with a bullseye and two circles outside of the bullseye.

The bullseye represents what Granovetter considered to be your Primary Circle of contacts.  These are people that you are dealing with on almost a daily or weekly basis.  They could be some of your best clients, best prospects, best resources or referral sources, or just a close friend.  Depending upon the size of your network and your business or profession, this list might be anywhere from a handful of people, to a dozen or more.

The circle outside of your primary circle represents your Secondary Contact list and they are those people who tend to come in and then drift out of that Primary Circle on some fairly regular basis, perhaps monthly or quarterly.

The third circle represents what Granovetter termed “Weak Ties”, and I like to consider them to be anyone with whom, at one time in the past, you had a good relationship, but somehow your lives have drifted apart and you lost touch.   Granovetter’s research shows that by regularly reaching out to a Weak Tie, will result in some of your best connections, especially for landing a job.

In my own and other’s experience, the exact same thing applies to sales, marketing, or consulting in any field.  When you reach out to a ‘Weak Tie’, you will often find that the individual you knew years ago, has grown in stature and influence, as hopefully you have as well, and re-connecting with him or her will open up doors you might never dream could happen.

But, with NetWeaving as a backdrop, you should make any of these ‘reach out connections with the thought in mind of FIRST, finding some way you might be of help to the person.  One of the most effective ways to follow up and follow through, is to listen as you are speaking, or communicating via a ‘virtual’ online face-to-face connection and think of someone you already know (probably in your Primary or Secondary circle), whom this ‘Weak Tie’ connection might benefit meeting and getting to know.

As we say in NetWeaving, and which has been proven to be true over and over again, “When you open the door for someone else, you will never guess who YOU might meet as a result.” 


Reference:  Mark Granovetter, “The Strength of Weak Ties”

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