perjantai 28. syyskuuta 2012

How to take advantage of weak ties in job hunting?


Do you think that Word-of-mouth or community networking theories are new?

I just read Mark Granovetter´s research paper from 1972, well the guy really was up to something. His theory was that the weak links are more effective on reaching or spreading information, than the strong ones. WHY? This is because the weak links connects us to networks we don’t have reach before, whereas our strong ties merely links us to network and information that is already familiar and close to us. “Those whom we are weakly tied are more likely to move in circles different from our own and will thus have access to information different from that which we receive” (Granovetter 1972). Granovetter´s diagram shows how bridge connecting A to B enables indirect contact to whole new networks and contacts. The weak ties, acquaintances, are our bridge to the outside world. Why would this be useful information? 

Granovetter Mark (1972) The strenght of Weak ties


Are you about to search for a new job? Keep this on mind! Granovetter conducted a study on the nature of the tie between the job changer and the contact person who provided the necessary information.A natural prior idea was that those with whom one has strong ties are more motivated on helping with job information”, but study showed that only 16,7% of the jobs were reached with cherished strong relationships (contacts met often) and 83,4% were reached with weak ties (contact met occasionally or rarely). “It is remarkable that people receive crucial information from individuals whose very existence they have forgotten” (Granovetter 1972). So remember that next time!

If this was back 1972, think how wide and connected our online networks are these days and how far you can reach with weak ties connections. If already in 1929 Karinthy came up with the consept for Six degrees of separation, the theory that anyone on earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries, what is the number now in our highly networked and information emphasized societies? 

 Psychologist Stanley Milgram has also done research with the “small world experiment”. Milgram´s computer simulation in 1973 was able to predict that a more realistic three degrees of separation existed across the U.S. population. Back then it was purely simulated options to find out how linked we are, but today many of social media applications offer us automatically some answers to those questions. 

For example Bakhshandeh et al. (2011) found Twitter average degree of separation is 3.43 and social media monitoring firm Sysomos came up with the number 4.67. Facebook platform application named “Six degrees” found out that the average separation for all users in the application (5,8 million) of the application was 5.73 degrees, whereas the maximum degree of separation was 12. What is the true degree of separation, it depends of the focus scales and variables, but I think it’s more important to find out the degree to your key audience, stakeholders, markets, leads etc.

For professional perspective you can easily find out your own number from LinkedIn, its shows you automatically the path how you are linked to the persons profile you are watching, try it! For more fun Check out the Six Degrees of KevinBacon, even Google search is now automatically supporting the game on the search box.

It’s important to find out how linked you are and focusing to the right connections. Build the needed bridges to spread your WOM, it will help you to create widespread information. "Studies of diffusion and mass communication have shown that people rarely act on mass-media information unless it is also transmitted through personal ties" (Granovetter) and in modern times weak ties can be seen as shared information in online communities.

Remember that your goal is not to affect each person individually, instead you need to remember that purchasing and communication is a part of the social process. Your customers’ networks are small worlds and they are much easier to connect than you think, they are held together by hubs and connectors. This is how ideas are spread through these networks like the epidemic, that we have been looking for. These hubs are connected to other valuable connections which enables "fire with a match chain reaction". "Word of mouth emerges as one of the most important, if not the most important source of information for the consumer" (Arndt, 1967). But what and how does the consumers actually talk online, you might be supprised! More about that and negative/positive WOM on the next post,

Stay tuned and leave a comment! Check out how you are linked to me in LinkedIn?
Aleksi Lehtola

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