Today we’re talking about the hidden power of a weak connection and why it’s so key to powerful networking.
A weak link is a second-degree connection. It’s a friend of a friend. And you might think that a strong link, a direct link, a first-party link is going to be powerful, but let’s examine how this really works.
The average person has 200 friends. It might Facebook friends, LinkedIn friends, friends that you hang out with, etc. And if they want to get a job, then they might tell these 200 friends, “Hey, I’m looking for a job” “Or do you know somebody who can fix my car?” or, “Do you know someone who can give me advice on a particular kind of thing?”
Those are strong links, but it’s a smaller pool and your close, close friends, maybe it’s 10 people that are even smaller. Those people are less likely to know of the particular person that you need to meet, of the particular company, or of the particular opportunity.
A weak link is a friend of a friend. So each of those 200 people may know 200 people. So that gives you a wider pool of 40,000 people. Those 40,000 people will come from a more diverse set of social economic circumstances because people tend to hang around with other people in the same kind of circumstances.
So that friend of a friend might be able to make that real estate connection that you need or introduce you to somebody that you didn’t even know was in your network. And the funny thing is that when you look at things like John Guerra’s.Six Degrees of Separation, saying that everybody on the planet is connected. Any two random people are no more than six degrees connected from someone else, it shows you how far away you really are from other people.
Facebook published a study eight years ago, showing the number of degrees of separation between you and the average person on Facebook. And I think Mark Zuckerberg was a 2.9. I was like a 2.8, meaning I was only 2.8 connections away from anybody on the social network. I think Sheryl Sandberg was like a 3.1. (She’s the COO.)
We live in a world where you’re never more than two or three connections away from someone you really want to meet.
That’s not to say that you should try to get as many followers or friends or LinkedIn connections as possible. But what it does mean is that when you nurture your friends and they know what you are looking for. When you have a clear headline in your LinkedIn bio, when you have a clear purpose in your blog or your personal brand website saying I help X achieve Y through Z, when everyone knows what you’re looking for and what you’re trying to do, it’s a lot easier for them to be able to make connections on your behalf, to be able to make introductions.
My friend, Caleb Guilliams wrote the book, The And Asset. And I know that he’s one of the world’s best financial advisors. And because he’s done that and he’s put a stake in the ground, he has a YouTube channel, when I know somebody who’s selling their company, or they need some really smart tax strategies, or they want to be able to invest and save at the same time. I know to put them in touch with Caleb Guilliams.
Think about how you can leverage the power of weak connections. You do that by making sure that your personal brand is visible on all channels, and that your friends know about what you’re doing in a non douchey spammy kind of way. You’ll be surprised at the number of connections that you make.
It’s those weak connections, which are referrals. They are people that you meet at a conference, or at a dinner party. They provide more value, and more business opportunities are going to be the source of your employees.
When you think about it, everything that is a referral is a weak connection. It could be a Yelp customer that leaves a review for you. It could be somebody that’s an existing customer of yours and they say something nice about you on Twitter.
And if you think about an even weaker connection, a third-degree connection, a friend of a friend of a friend, that’s when you do something so awesome, maybe you speak at a conference, you publish a book, you do something that makes TV or media news. Then the ripple effect of the stone being dropped in the pond. Those ripples go outward and more people know about who you are.
So this is not saying you should try to go viral, but it does say that the connections we need to make, to meet someone, it could be anybody, it could President Obama or Elon Musk, you’re never more than actually two or three connections away.
And that’s the hidden power of having a strong personal brand. That’s the hidden power that professional networkers know, they are people who are really good, that seem to know everybody, that seemed to be able to figure things out.
It’s the power that weak connection. I hope you’ll take advantage of that.
And then let me know in the comments, what you think about this weak connection and how has influenced how you think about networking.
Because you never know if you’re just one connection away.
If you liked this, check out this Marketing Millennials podcast I did with Daniel Murray, where we talk about networking, and how to leverage the power of a weak connection. And read this blog post that accompanies it.
And here’s an easy, cheeky way you can jumpstart your weak connections.