Mark Granovetter, head of sociology at Stanford, discovered that weak-tie acquaintances were often more important than strong-tie friends because weak ties give us access to social networks we don’t otherwise belong to. This research has been discussed over and over again: The Power of Habit, Linked: The New Science of Networks, & The Tipping Point.
The white collar workers in Granovetter's study learned about new job opportunities through acquaintances, rather than close friends. Granovetter showed that weak contacts were twice as effective (28%) as strong contacts (17%) for finding a job. Casual connections were more likely to lead to a job.
This seems counter-intuitive. On the surface it appears close friends would be better. But if you think about it, you interact with close friends on a regular basis. You consume similar media. By the time they have heard about a new opportunity, so have you. It's your weak-tie acquaintances, i.e. rarely used gmail contacts, who can tell you about opportunities you would otherwise never hear about.
While you process this uncommon sense here's something else to consider. We assume society is homogenous because pop culture places so much emphasis on the individual. But it's not! Sociologists have learned that society is made up of groups of people, clusters. Granovetter's research shows these clusters are particularly important in channeling people into the best opportunities the economy has to offer. People trust and trust in people they know.
>75% of high end white collar jobs were found thru personal contacts or acquaintances, not close friends.
(1) Send an email to someone you know (but don’t know very well) and check in.
(2) Use Streak or hubspot, to track who opens your emails.
First, you are overlooking the power of empathy. You bring value to the table because you understand and can share the feelings of those you connect with. Your job benefits other people, but have you lost sight of your human impact? It’s not the typical focal point of your work. There is value in the connection, but here are some ideas.
Do any little thing that benefits them, not you.
Or just send them a link they might find useful.
Still stuck? Okay, send them the link to the post you’re reading right now.
If this has helped you it can probably help them too. 😉
One great idea is Adam Rifkin’s “Five-Minute Favor”: a favor that takes less than five minutes. Imagine taking a couple minutes every day to help someone in a way that's a small commitment to you, but could be of large benefit to someone else. For an examples you can check out my five step decision making process or my Instagram bio.
Assume Wisely provides uncommon sense on how to make better decisions.
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I’m trying to give my why form. It might be easier to draw the wind. The best I can do is is offer evidence it exists. I can’t articulate an answer, but I know it is there because I am inspired when I come to work and I am fulfilled when I leave.
I wrote that a few months ago. I finished Simon Sinek’s Start with Why. Twice. I look back at the progress I’ve made. I’ve been working on something that I find inspiring. A mantra like Elliot Hulse’s “Becoming the strongest version of yourself.” Or Eric Thomas’ “When you want to succeed as badly as you want to breath, then you will succeed.” The best I’ve got is, “Think into the deep thought.”
It’s not intuitively clear. I suspect the vagueness is just cover for a thought that is still not clearly articulated. The idea is steeped in the idea that deep thought can only happen for a mind that is focused on the present. I ask myself, to what end? For the love of learning falls flat. The truth is because I want to learn. I want to know. It’s really just a fancy, enlightened way to say in my best Forrest Gump voice, “I like to learn a lot”.
Tonight I broke through to the next level of clarity. Tonight I wrote:
“Become a catalyst for change. Others might be intimidated by new knowledge, fear what they don’t understand. But we can calm those fears and discover new understanding because we are willing to soak it in. Because we crave discovery. Think into the deep.”
I’m getting there.
50 coffee meetings. It should stick in your head as a metaphor for networking. For getting outside of your comfort zone. For starting relationships today that won’t pay off for a year. It’s the entrepreneur’s equivalent of “10,000 hours.”
Anybody who has spent any time with me in person will be tired of this advice because I give it so frequently. It is a piece of actionable advice that if you put into practice starting next week will start paying dividends in the near future. There’s a direct correlation to your future success.
5 / week = 250 / year. Imagine the human progress you could make with 250 short, relationship-focused meetings.
Here’s why it’s critical:
1. Recruiting. Are you looking for great engineers? Talented brand sales people? A smart young marketing exec? If you wait until you need to fill somebody in a roll you’re losing valuable time as an entrepreneur. You should always have a steady stream of “friend of the firm” hanging around your company. You invite them to cocktail parties. You send them update emails. You don’t have budget for them – not yet. But when you do, you’re ready to go.
You don’t have time in your day to always be interviewing. But here’s the oxymoron – you need to ABR (always be recruiting). How do you make that happen? 50 coffee meetings. If you want to read more about hiring at a startup check out: 1. Attitude over Aptitude and also 2. Hire Fast, Fire Fast.
2. Job Hunting. You’re a candidate. You’re thinking about your next big gig. You want the primo role. Hot company. Senior title. Lots of responsibility. The moment a big job is advertised you’re fawked. Why? Cuz there are 20 people who have the exact qualifications as the job spec will suggest. But they don’t have your hustle, your energy. You won’t land the big jobs unless you’re in there shaping the discussion about what the company needs, convincing them that they need you before they’re even ready to hire.
This takes 50 coffee meetings. You know the drill – “informational interview.” Life is an informational interview. Everything you do applies to this lesson. Yet too many people never do it. They sit and wait for job specs to be posted on job boards. Or whatever the equivalent metaphor is for any other parts of their business.
We take action when we need results. We wait until things are urgent & important. That’s not effective.
And one thing is certain – you can’t look for a job remotely. It doesn’t work precisely because it violates the 50 coffee meeting rule.
3. Relations with journalists to drive better coverage of your business long term? 50 coffee meetings. Help them write other stories. One day they’ll write yours.
4. Raising money from angels and VCs some day? 50 coffee meetings. Turn dots into lines. Don’t listen to people who advise you otherwise. They’re wrong.
5. Understanding customer requirement? 50 coffee meetings. “Get out of the office” says Steve Blank.
6. Are You a VC? Get out of your offices and go have coffee meetings. Preferably at startup HQs. Why do they always need to come to you? Increase your deal flow. 50 coffee meetings. Office hours. JFDI.
I know I’m getting repetitive. It is with great intent. Whatever amount you’re getting out and talking with prospects, customers, employees, recruits, competitors, press, investors, potential investors … it’s never enough. (unless you’re a conference ho … then it’s too much )
For almost everybody else I work with I know that a little more dedication to coffee meetings would have a positive impact. Your biz dev discussion that goes nowhere today will plants seeds in somebody’s mind 18 months from now.
Yet most of us resist the coffee meetings seeing them as a distraction from: shipping our release, refining our business plan, working on our new website, etc. You have to do both. Wake up early. Turn coffee into late-night drinks. Never eat lunch alone.
Go on. Get our of your fraking office and make it happen.
Image courtesy of Fotolia.