I am an open networker. That means I will connect to almost anyone who wants to connect with me, particularly on LinkedIn. If we are not currently connected, click on the photo above, go to my LinkedIn page and ask to connect.
Some people have asked me why I do this. What could you gain from connecting with people you don’t know? It all gets back to the strength of weak ties, a study done nearly 30 years ago. Rather than make you read a lengthy study, let me summarize the key fact I gleaned from it. The people you know well know the same people you do. The people you don’t know or don’t know well can help you connect to other people you don’t know who may be able to help you find a job or land new business.
Don Peppers writes about this phenomenon:
The weak-ties principle has many implications for how you go about discovering opportunities for your business, beyond just a personal job search. For instance:
One study of successful entrepreneurs found they were more likely than others to have “deliberately exposed themselves to different sources of information, by striking up conversations on trains, for example, or maintaining a diverse range of acquaintances, to increase the odds of stumbling upon an interesting opportunity.”
Private equity investors who share information with others about possible investment candidates are able to access a wider network of candidates themselves.
Venture capital firms concentrated in technology centers (like Silicon Valley, Boston, or NY) do better competitively because they are able to “cast a wide, public net” – in effect, harvesting their weak ties.