Max Steén was convinced that a long-held belief about networking was wrong. As a BNI member and master networker, he constantly ran across the idea that lots of weak ties were better than a few strong ties. He was convinced that the truth was actually the other way around. So he conducted a study as part of his masters’ thesis to explore the issue in depth.
His study showed that those who focused on strong ties rather than weak ties were able to increase the number of referrals from networking by 2,100%, with an increase in revenue value of 63%!
Those who focused on strong ties rather than weak ties were able to increase the number of referrals from networking by 2,100%
28% of the people surveyed focused more on their weak ties, trying to get many connections rather than a few strong connections. Why is it that so many people are working on the wrong type of relationships to build their referral base?
According to Max, who shared his study together with BNI founder Ivan Misner, it all started in 1973. A highly influential researcher named Mark Granovetter claimed that when networking for employment, you should look through your weak ties or connections in order to more efficiently reach your goal.
He argued that through your weak ties, you would find the most information and new opportunities. His influential books led many to expand the number of connections they have rather than on the quality of those connections.
“Weak ties” may be relevant to job searches but “strong ties” are critical for generating quality business referrals.
Your strong ties are likely to be people with whom you discuss topics on a deeper and more focused level. Your strong ties, or connections, are also people with whom you have developed a deeper level of trust. Trust is key in the generation of business referrals.
If you give a referral for business services, you give a little bit of your reputation away. When you give a good referral, it enhances your reputation. When you give a bad referral, it hurts your reputation. People who have strong ties want to make sure that the trust level gets stronger and is not damaged with a bad referral.
Conversely, job opportunities found through weak ties are by nature greater in number (you have more weak than strong ties), and these opportunities most often consist of new information. Thus, reaching through weak ties enables a greater number of new job opportunities to be found.