Globalization, digitization, emerging technologies, and shifting demographics are all working together to create a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) business environment. Alongside other such workplace disruptors, employers and employees, alike, can easily find themselves struggling to remain competitive. 

One way of mediating the situation is to constantly engage in personal development, keeping yourself up-to-date on the latest trends, and looking to learn new skills. Another way is to learn how to leverage weak ties and generate new ideas and opportunities as a result.

The Benefits of Weak Ties

Our network of connections will typically consist of people we know personally and professionally. Generally, we tend to have two types of networks: a strong one composed of close ties, and a loose one composed of weak ties. Strong ties refer to close friends and family, good work friends, former classmates, etc. Loose ties include old friends we don’t keep in touch with very often, circumstantial acquaintances, various social media contacts, and so on.

It was shown that people who reach out to weak ties tend to find a job easier, be happier at work, and earn a higher income. Loose ties are also more objective and less personally invested in our careers. Close-tie contacts, such as close friends and family, will tend to stop us from taking risks. Loose ties, however, may hold the knowledge and resources to minimize those risks and turn them into realizations.

You can turn your weak-tie network into an opportunity-generating powerhouse by introducing you to the right people and ideas. But don’t limit yourself to people similar to you. Expand your network to include people of different ages, genders, backgrounds, and experiences. Look to balance your time between online and offline networking.

How to Build and Leverage Your Loose-Tie Connections

There are two effective ways of building and leveraging your network of weak ties. You can build your network one person at a time by getting to know them individually, or you can bridge together different contacts within your own network.

Building Your Network –

Those that tend to develop their network of weak ties will first determine their own needs and priorities. They will decide which groups, activities, and events will benefit them most and work from there. Some builders will develop their networks slowly, one person at a time.

Others tend to take a broader approach and focus their efforts on constant interaction within a larger pool of contacts. Whatever the case, building a network will take work. And once a relationship is established, it needs to be nourished over time. Otherwise, all prior efforts would have been for nothing.

Bridging Connections in Your Network –

While extroverts tend to serve as brokers or matchmakers, introverts can also use this tactic. Basically, you are building goodwill by linking people together for their mutual benefit. Everyone you help can potentially help you in the future.

Whether it’s by attending professional gatherings, going to company-sponsored events, business lunches, get-togethers, or other such activities, you will need to work on leveraging your weak-tie network by building, bridging, or a combination of both.

Do you have your own style of uncovering opportunities from your network? I am always looking for examples and case studies. I would welcome a brief conversation with you.  Let’s connect on https://go.oncehub.com/GregNichvalodoff or greg@inscapeconsulting.com.

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