Small Changes Make a Big Difference Part 5 – Connecting
Connecting it is something we do everyday with people but are you using your connections to their best advantage?
I am in the process of hunting for a new job at the moment as well as running an online business and trying to raise funds for my friend in Kenya. So I am trying to use my connections I have to help me all of these tasks.
This morning I received an email from a connection on Linked In which I had not actually contacted yet about the job hunt and tomorrow I have an interview with his organisation. On Facebook I am using my connections to build business contacts and relationships so people will get to know me and my desires. I am also using my Facebook contacts and personal contacts to help me to raise money to get my friend’s 10 year old daughter released from Hospital.
I was reading in Rob Yeung’s book, The Extra One Percent – How Small changes make Exceptional People, that often it is our weak ties that act as bridge builders between communities.
Think about how many connections you have. Write a list of those people.
Now rate those contacts on the strength of your relationship with them, perhaps by giving each person between 1 and 3 stars. Now say you have a particular goal – perhaps to raise money for a charity, promote your business or find a job, you may be tempted to stick to the safe ground of talking to the people you know best, your 2 star and 3 star relationships but research has shown this may not be the most lucrative course of action.
Several studies have highlighted the power of weak ties. One Rob talks about is where employees and managers in three totally different organisations – An American Pharmaceutical Company, a British Bank and a Canadian Oil and Gas company – were surveyed. The research team found that most people relied on their strong ties for knowledge and advice, however the most useful information more often than not came from their weak ties rather than the people they were in contact with most often. Another study found that jobseekers who made the additional effort to contact their weak ties tended to earn more in their next jobs than their counterparts who focused mainly on the people they already knew well.
It has even been discovered that belonging to a greater number of social groups and networks may even help protect from illness. More than a few studies show that people who have more diversified social networks live longer than people with fewer social relationships. Most remarkably, the relative risk of death for individuals with few social networks is comparable in magnitude to the impact that cigarette smoking has on mortality. Putting it another way, having few friends is as dangerous for our health as taking up smoking.
When I read this I had to re-read it a few more times. Having few friends is as dangerous for our health as taking up smoking. Glad I am out and about a lot. I only have a few really close friends but I have lots of associates and acquaintances so I hope it makes me safe. Working everyday in big organisations, been involved in sports clubs or dance clubs or business clubs always adds to your social networks. I am not so sure this is relevant for online only friends, but if it is then I am safe there as I am making more online friends every day.
It is not necessarily the number of friends you have but more the diversity of the social ties you have. You can have loads of friends but if they all are in the same group hang out with the same people etc then it will not give the diversity required. The protective factor seems to be the nuber of different social circles a person belongs to and this protective factor seems to have held even taking into account other factors such as patterns of smoking, alcohol consumption, physical exercise, sleep quality, diet and personality type. So when it comes to the shielding health benefits of social ties, both the quantity and quality of ties matter less than the sheer diversity of them. That is having loads of weak ties.
Hang with your friends and the people you feel most comfortable with but remember it is actually our weak ties that may help us to break fresh ground, achieve our goals and protect our health. Whether we are looking for an unadvertised job opening, a new customer for our businesses or even a hot date, you’re more likely to find it through casual acquaintances than close friends.
Connecting is the skill of reaching out to new people and leveraging relationships for mutual gain. You don’t have to meet hundreds of new people. Just the art of adding a couple of new people to our address book each day can make a difference and significantly boost our chances of achieving goals.
Remember people may be happy to help us achieve our goals, but they can’t unless we gently let them know we exist and tell them what we are wanting.
We must look to surround ourselves with the people we most aspire to be like. Whether your intention is to lose weight, raise money for a cause, move up the corporate ladder, learn from people who are doing what you want to do.
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If you want to see the other four other traits I have written about so far then please check them out here.
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Have a great Day.
This blog contains excerpts from the book The Extra One Percent by Rob Yeung.