LinkedIn: Facebook for Professionals

Two friends recommended a book to me within a week of each other. Both of these people know what sorts of books I like to read, so when both of them recommended the same book, I knew it was worth the purchase. One Barnes N’ Noble order and several shipping days later, I received Meg Jay’s The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter- and how to make the most of them nowIt must be a happy coincidence that the book was published on my birthday, but either way, I’ve found a new book to love and pass on to the people around me. I’m sure I’ll finish it by this weekend, but now, even just a few chapters in, I’m hooked.

Jay’s chapter on “weak ties” talks about how much seemingly unimportant relationships with people can lead to tips, connections, and motivations that dramatically change a person’s life. This immediately made me think of LinkedIn, and so when another friend asked me if I was on it today, I decided to go through and actually add contacts to a profile that previously had only five connections on it. Even though I spent time in my March training on using social media and technology for personal and professional growth, I failed to do so myself.

I’m not exactly the loudest person in the room, or the most extroverted. My strengths lie in developing deep and meaningful relationships with a few people. I’m capable of creating beautiful plans and schedules, and I’m incredibly creative. I love encouraging people and doing little things that will bring happiness to the faces and stomachs of the people around me. One other thing. I’m also fiercely independent, and I get really uncomfortable asking other people for favors.

My mom likes to tell this story about how when I was a toddler, she’d have to put me in my car seat ten minutes before she wanted to leave, because it took me that long to struggle with my buckle before I would give up and ask for help. All these years later, I still don’t like asking for help, and I still think that I can do things on my own, even when I eventually have to admit that this is not the case. In her book Jay says,

When I encourage twentysomethings to draw on the strength of weak ties, there is often a fair among of resistance: “I Hate networking” or “I want to get a job on my own” of “That’s not my style” are common reactions. I get it, but that doesn’t change the fact that, as we look for jobs or relationships or opportunities of any kind, it is the people we know the least well who will be the most transformative.

Hm. I understand the sentiment.

My question to you: how have weak ties and/or networking influenced your relationships, jobs, and opportunities? How has it impacted your life, and what do you see as the value of it?