Shifting Connections & The Strength of Weak Ties

December, 2013


“Changing careers is not merely a matter of changing the work we do. It is as much about changing the relationships that matter in our professional lives. Shifting connections refers to the practice of finding people who can help us see and grow into our new selves, people we admire, would like to emulate, and with whom we want to spend time. All reinventions require social support. New or distant acquaintances — people and groups on the periphery of our existing networks — help us push off in new directions while providing the secure base in which change can take hold.

We cannot regenerate ourselves in isolation. We develop in and through our relationships with others — the master teaches the apprentice a new craft; the mentor guides a protege through the passage to an inner circle; the council of peers monitors the standards of a professional group, conferring status within the community. Yet, when it comes to reinventing ourselves, the people who know us best are also the ones most likely to hinder rather than help. They may wish to be supportive but they tend to reinforce — or even desperately try to preserve — the old identity we are seeking to shed.”

Hermina Ibarra

Source: Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career, Pages: 113-114

“People weren’t getting their jobs through their friends. They were getting them through their acquaintances. Why is this? Granovetter arues that it is because when it comes to finding out about new jobs — or, for that matter, new information, or new ideas — “weak ties” are always more important than strong ties. Your friends, after all, occupy the same world you do. They might work with you, or live near you, and go to the same churches, schools, or parties. How much, then, would they know that you wouldn’t know? Your acquaintances, on the other hand, by definition occupy a very different world than you. They are much more likely to know something you don’t. To capture this apparent paradox, Granovetter coined a marvelous phrase: the strength of weak ties.”

Malcolm Gladwell

Source: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Page: 54