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The Strength Of Weak Ties. The 5 Minute Career Coach October 2010
October 01, 2010

Helping Career Changers Around The World

October 2010


Welcome to the October 2010 edition of The 5 Minute Career Coach.

What's in this Issue

How big is your circle of friends and acquaintances? Have you ever tried jotting down the names of all the people you know? Give it a go – and throw the net as wide as you can to see just how many people you can include. I bet the list is longer than you were expecting.

Now skip down to this month's article about the strength of weak ties and discover how powerful that network of contacts can be. But don't stop there – once you have read the article, get to work to grow your network of connections even further. This could be the source of the new career you are waiting to discover.

With best wishes

Quote of the Day

"Luck happens when preparation and opportunity meet"

Don't look with envy at people who seem to you to just have been lucky in their work or life. Ask instead what they have done to seek out opportunities and how they have prepared themselves to make to make the most of those opportunities when they found them.

Then follow their example.

The Strength of Weak Ties

When sociologist Mark Granovetter did a study of how people get new jobs, he discovered that over half had found their latest job through personal contacts, and less than 20% had found their new job through the traditional route of job ads and recruitment agencies.

This is a finding worth taking careful note of if you are looking for a new job or a new career.

When Granovetter investigated further what these 'personal contacts' looked like, he found that it was not a matter of close friends helping one another out, but rather that these contacts were mainly just acquaintances with whom the job seeker had only occasional contact.

So how can that work?

There is a logic to it when you stop and think it through.

Friends vs acquaintances
The people you know well, your close friends who you see on a regular basis, tend to be people who have quite a lot in common with you. They share your interests and ideas, enjoy the same activities, talk the same language as you do. Their life maps pretty closely onto yours. So when it comes to a situation like career change, when you need new ideas and a fresh approach, their help is not always as valuable as you might think.

The 'life map' of your more casual acquaintances, on the other hand, is more likely to look quite different from yours. There is much less overlap between you and them. This means that they will be able to introduce you to new people, take you to new places and encourage you to think about your situation from a totally new standpoint.

This is what prompted Granovetter to coin the term 'the strength of weak ties'. The people who you are weakly connected to are the source of your greatest strength when it comes to moving your life or career in a new direction.

The more 'weak ties' the better
So as a potential career changer, one of your top objectives should be to build your network of acquaintances, your 'weak ties', as these are the people who may help you to come up with new ideas about your career and who may also be able to connect you with people who can help you to explore these ideas in greater detail. Bottom line, they may even help you to find a new job!

You don't achieve this simply by joining a number of formal networking groups. A better strategy is to make a point of doing things and going places where you will encounter new and different people. By being interested in them and in their different take on life and work, you stretch the boundaries of what you consider to be the possible career and life options open to you.

Keep working on growing your network in as many different ways as you can. The more 'weak ties' you have, the stronger your network becomes.

Your 5 Minute Coaching Session

Challenging questions are one of the key tools coaches use in helping clients to create change.

Each month I offer you a mini coaching session by asking you a challenging question to think about. The questions I ask are designed to get you thinking in new ways and hopefully gain insights that may open your mind to new possibilities for you career and for your life.

What new activities or groups of people could you connect with in the next few weeks to bring you into contact with some different people??

Sit down and make a list. Make sure they are things that interest or intrigue you but at the same time, stretch you a little.

Go to a dance class, visit an exhibition, attend a film festival, seek out a lecture on a topic that interests you. If you are really stuck, take a look at this month's Recommended Resource on Meet Ups. Then choose your group, book your place, put the date in your diary and turn up. Don’t just think about it – do it!

Recommended Resources

Meet Ups! Website
Do something – Share something – Learn something – Change something!

This website is the hub of a fantastic worldwide resource that brings people together under a shared interest or passion.

It is very simple. Use the website to search under a topic of interest and a location to find a meet up group near you. And if you can't find one – then set one up!

A quick browse today turned up groups in my area covering cycling, yoga, sushi, serious about success, learning Italian, bellydancing, life drawing, ethical fashion...the list goes on!

You can be pretty sure that you will find something that tickles your fancy, so go on – give it a try!

More recommendations
If you would like to see more recommendations for books and similar resources, follow the link to the Career Change Books page of the How To Change Careers website. Do keep popping back to it as I am adding to it all the time.

And if there are books, websites and other resources that have inspired you and that you would like to recommend, there is a place for you to do so on that page.

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