How Strong Are Your "Weak" Ties

For a number of years many of us have been very interested in "Social Networks," and "Social Capital." We have studied, researched, taught and written (Social Capital: The Key to Macro Change,, 2014) about this fascinating subject. The evidence on the positive effects that unfold through our relationships is beyond refute. We know that health, happiness, advancement, achievement, and even our longevity are tied to our social networks and social capital. We know that people get, and keep jobs based on their relationships, and that psycholochogical balance all point to our friendships. 

We also know that social capital is not distributed equally. Many studies show that people who are better educated, either formally, or informally, have wider and deeper social networks. This includes both "strong" and "weak" ties.  Quite simply, poor folks, people with disabilities, immigrants, and other minorities, on average, have less social capital.

Now strong ties are those close relationships we have with family and people we feel deeply bonded with and as you might expect, these connections are important. The covenant people in our lives play a significant role in our lives. 

Equally important however, are the weak ties in our lives. These are the people we know casually., the acquaintances we have where we know these people, and might call them friends, but they are not close to us. These connections tend to be more diverse, as they unfold with people all over the scale, age, ethnicity, perspective, or experience. Yet, it is the reach and diversity of these weaker social ties that are valuable for our social mobility, and in many ways, our economic advancement. This plays out in the connections that can unfold when you are led to a friend of a friend. This is the power of "weak ties." 

Think about it - how often have you had a door open to you (or your children, or someone you serve) when you connected with a friend of a friend. More, think about your close ties today. Probably most of them were introduced to you by a friend of a friend. 

So, in your social network, know that the close ties are important, but your "weak ties" are the ones that lead you to new things, and new awareness. You never know when your life will be enhanced by a friend of a friend. 

How strong are your weak ties?