Do you want to make the world a better place by being more successful and earning more? You may be able to do all of that by exploiting the power of weak ties–not the people you know well, but people who may be in your extended network, because you work in the same industry or organization, have friends in common, or are part of the same industry group
It’s backed by research, like most of Adam Grant’s advice, and it came from the Wharton psychologist. In an office environment, there are a lot of people running into each other in the hall or chatting before or after a meeting, which leads to a lot of innovative ideas. The move to remote work upended everything, he explained in a recent webinars.
A lot of people were keeping in touch with their strongest ties during the Pandemic. Most of us were good at keeping in touch with our immediate team members, our direct reports, our closet clients, but we lost touch with everyone else.
That’s a shame because it ended all those lucky accidents. He said that it does not have to be that way. There are people with different knowledge and connections who have time for informal interaction. You can structure the time if you don’t see those people. One way you can make people feel less alone and more creative is to engineer interactions between weaker ties. You allow people to connect who don’t know each other.
It can be powerful. Grant said that an organization tried to match two salespeople for a weekly lunch. The lunches didn’t have an agenda. He said it took them a month to do it. The salesperson in the experiment had 24 percent higher revenue. What’s going on? You learn from each other when you have no agenda. tacit knowledge is shared by you. I have a lunch buddy that I didn’t know about and they ended up feeling connected to each other. We have some shared goals and common interests, and we were able to help each other out.
The benefits go beyond that. Grant helped found an app that encourages people to ask for help from each other, and to give it if they can. He said that the thought was to reach out to weaker ties in your inner circle who know different things. About 80 percent of the requests get help in response, even though they are pretty challenging to see a Bengal tiger in the wild.
It doesn’t stop at that. People are eager to give back when others ask for help because the odds are low that someone who gets help will immediately reciprocate. A cycle is created by this.
If I can get more people to ask for help across a team or community, and engage some of those weak ties, they can get the support they need and they can also be blown away by the generosity of near strangers,” Grant said. It creates a pay-it-forward norm.
It’s one of the untold stories of this past year. Across the world, Generosity has gone up. Rates of volunteering have gone up. We have seen a rise in donations. Informal help between neighbors has gone up. I think that’s the default response to disasters. We don’t do enough to keep going.
Weak ties can be used to benefit your company. Encourage the people who work with you to do the same by looking for ways to reach out across your own network. He said that one of the greatest antidotes to loneliness is to give and receive. “I can’t think of a better way to do that than to invite people to ask anything they need or want of anyone in their network.”
Inc.com readers receive a daily text from me with a self-care or motivational micro-challenge. We end up in a conversation when they text me back. Would you like to join? An invitation to an extended free trial is here. Many are entrepreneurs or business leaders and they tell me how helpful it is to reach out to their extended networks, or weak ties, whenever they need help, ideas or a better perspective.