Your Friends Don’t Help You Get Jobs

But your acquaintances do.

I’m re-reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, and enjoying his discussion of Connectors all over again. For those of you who may not be familiar with his work, Malcolm Gladwell, in his groundbreaking book The Tipping Point, calls some people “Connectors.”  He says that there really are a few people who seem to “know everybody.”  These people tend to meet and connect to more people than the average person, and they seem to take pleasure in connecting others as well. 

One of the things Gladwell says is characteristic of Connectors is that they touch many different worlds.  By that, he means that Connectors don’t limit themselves to their jobs or personal lives to create and expand their networks.  They set foot in many different worlds.  It’s part of what Gladwell describes as their “combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability and energy.”

Here’s what he means by “worlds.”  Let’s say you work in a mid-size public accounting firm in Jacksonville.  You’ve been employed there for eight years. We’ll call this your primary professional “world.” Presumably, you are well-connected in this world; your network of peers, clients and professional connections should be strong and vibrant. You work on the south side of Jacksonville, so you also know people in your office park, the restaurants and stores around your office, and others who live and work in that geographic location.

You also live in St. Johns County, so you have connections throughout St. Augustine.  You volunteer at your son’s school, so you know staff and parents from that world. You are an avid film buff, so you’re also connected to the local film scene and many people in film production here in Northeast Florida. You also attend evening classes at UNF, so you know students, professors and staff there.  You begin to see how many “worlds” you actually live in every week.

Why is that important?  Networking is about deep connections, but it’s also about wide ones.  Gladwell estimates that most of the benefit you get from your network does not come from strong connections (former bosses, personal friends, etc.) but from what he terms “weak ties.”

Your friends, after all, he argues, “usually occupy the same world you do.  How much, then, will they know that you won’t?”  Your acquaintances often occupy different worlds.  They may not be close enough – geographically or in temperament – to become friends, but they are almost sure to know things and have connections you don’t.

All you have to do is figure out what you want to know.  Whether it’s ”someone who works in marketing at ABC company” or “how soon the south office of XYZ company will open up” or even “where can I get a great interview suit at a bargain price,” if you can articulate what you want, one of your “weak ties” can help you find it.

How many worlds do you have a foot in?  Who could help you ?

2 thoughts on “Your Friends Don’t Help You Get Jobs

  1. missdisplaced

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  2. […] military peers for advice and support, but they may not be the best source of job leads. I’ve written about the power of weak connections before, and I believe that spouses must have a wide and diverse network to be successful. Your next […]


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