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August 3, 2011 / Mervyn Dinnen

Weak ties or strong links – it’s a question of bandwidth

Its called Relationship Recruiting!

When I started working in recruitment I was quickly told about the 80/20 rule – 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients. It certainly informed my day to day relationship building as I quickly focused on a small number of deep relationships which held good for me for my years as a recruiter.

As we moved towards modern social networking though the accent was more on broadening out your network, concentrating on the ‘weak ties’, the ones that were most likely to bring new information and opportunity. Although the research that showed the strength of these weak ties dates back to 1973 they certainly started becoming more popular over the last few years, a situation exacerbated with rising usage of networking and connecting platforms – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – as they, in turn, facilitated growing the widest network possible.

So it was with great interest that I read in this month’s Wired of research conducted by two information economists, in a white paper due to be published later this year, that found that it was, after all the strong links that delivered the most profitable relationships. The weaker ties may deliver unique information, but the nature of the connection (weak) means that the interactions are rare.

Closer links may bring less unique news, but the higher level of interaction will ultimately make them a stronger source. The contacts with the greatest bandwidth do ultimately deliver the best results.

And to test this they used an executive recruiting firm, analysing e-mail correspondence. Guess what? Those consultants relying on a tight cluster of contacts received more new leads and generated greater fees.

Whilst the ideal results may well derive from a combination of weak and strong ties, it can’t be denied that close connections really are important after all.

If you’re a recruiter then develop them and nurture them…they may provide your best route to success.

And if you’re a jobseeker building the widest network you can, then stop for a moment and think about who is closer to home and who you may be overlooking. Close friends, family, neighbours and ex-colleagues…they may be able give you that vital lead a lot quicker than the sister-in-law of the guy who sold a computer to the wife of the friend of the golf partner you just shot an 82 with!

This post originally appeared as a guest blog on the excellent Blogging4jobs site run by Jessica Miller-Merrell. If you don’t follow her…you really should!

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