Weak Ties

I’ve always been fascinated by findings in the academic and business worlds that aren’t immediately intuitive. As an undergraduate many years ago, one of my professors published a paper entitled “The Strength of Weak Ties” that has subsequently become a classic in social theory. In the article, Mark Granovetter argues convincingly that weak ties – relationships more like acquaintances than strong friendships – are important because they decrease the overlap in personal networks, and potentially enhance both the reach and cohesion of social relations.1 Weak ties thus facilitate the exchange of information across disparate networks of dense and strong relationships. In subsequent research, the author found corroboration for his theses by examining employment markets, in which candidates are often referred to new jobs through weak ties. I guess I’m proof positive of this finding: over the past six months, I’ve made successful referrals for two candidates whom I only know through email introductions by friends. So weak is good!

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