Open Networking and the “Loose Tie”

Lifelete Fundamental

September 17, 2015

It is no secret that networking can help you achieve career success. Still, how do you create the ideal network? “According to multiple peer-reviewed studies, simply being in an open network instead of a closed one is the best predictor of career success.” (Michael Simmons) Your network is a closed network if the people you are connected to already know each other. In an open network, you are the link between people from different clusters. The key difference is that a closed network is made up of those who think alike and have similar backgrounds whereas an open network provides diverse experiences and viewpoints.

Why do open networks predict career success? It is more advantageous to diversify your network than to rely on having well-connected people in your network. Your “distant acquaintances have the ability to expose you to job openings that you and your friends just can’t know about.”(Kevin McKeown) In fact, passive talent “accounts for 75% of all professionals worldwide.” The vast majority of jobs are offered to those who are not currently job searching (i.e., passive talent) and those offers are made by people they do not even know yet. It was once believed that there are six degrees of separation between everyone, but the rise of social networks has lowered it to 3.9 degrees of separation.

How do you create an open network? Most networks include friends, family, and coworkers. To grow your network, view every person that knows someone in your network as a potential member of your own network. The goal is to work this “loose tie” to your advantage to diversify your network. Tell your network your professional goals so they have the opportunity to introduce you to someone who can help you meet that goal. You can also ask for an introduction via LinkedIn for a 2nd degree connection. “Social media in many ways simplifies and accelerates our ability to leverage our weaker social ties.” (Kevin McKeown) Use the search function to find people in your target industry and ask your connections to introduce you to 2nd degree connections. Reach out to your network via LinkedIn message using a targeted email request.

“The richest people in the world look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for work.” Robert Kiyosaki