Fascinating Read from The Tipping Point on Relationship Strength

June 29th, 2017

I’m finally muscling my way through The Tipping Point. It’s an excellent concept but I’ve had a problem getting past the first forty or so pages. Last night, though, I started reading something totally relevant to us on page 53… this is where the “80% of jobs come from networking” quote comes from. Note that the “80%” has been convoluted over the last few decades, but the concept of networking in a job search is important.  What I read, and what I share below, is “the rest of the story,” and it’s fascinating.

There is a very good example of the way Connectors function in the work of the sociologist Mark Granovetter. In his classic 1974 study Getting a Job, Granovetter looked at several hundred professional and technical workers from the Boston suburb of Newton, interviewing them in some detail on their employment history. He found that 56 percent of those he talked to found their job through personal connection. Another 18.8 percent used formal means – advertisements, headhunters – and roughly 20 percent applied directly.

This much is not surprising; the best way to get in the door is through a personal contact. But, curiously, Granovetter found that of those personal connections, the majority were “weak ties.”  Of those who used a contact to find a job, only 16.7 percent saw that contact “often” – as they would if the contact were a good friend – and 55.6 percent saw their contact “rarely.” People weren’t getting their jobs through their friends. They were getting them through their acquaintances.


I thought I was just going to read a little bit of the history of the “80%” (or, from the book, more like 60%) “of jobs are found through networking.” Now I have a name, and the real stats, and the date of the study. But what blew my mind was the idea that the jobs were found from acquaintences.

In JibberJobber we have a ranking system where you can say you have a one star (or two star, up to five star) relationship with your network contact. My thought has always been that you want to nurture and strengthen relationships. Doesn’t that make sense? Meet someone, they start as a one star relationship (that is, the strength of your relationship), and then you get to know them better and they become a two star, then a three, etc.

But what Malcom Gladwell writes is that Granovetter discovered that new jobs were found not (as often) from the strong relationships, but from the weak relationships!


Let’s go on… on page 54:

Why is this? Granovetter argues 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 that 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?

You acquaintances, on the other hand, by definition occupy a very different world than you. They are much more likely to know something that you don’t. To capture this apparent paradox, Granovetter coined a marvelous phrase: the strength of the weak ties.

Acquaintances, in short, represent a source of social power, and the more acquaintances you have the more powerful you are.

Is your mind blown?

Did you realize that the “weak ties” in your network are actually a source of great power?

Will you look at your “weak ties” differently now?

Gladwell talks about two people who have an enormous amount of weak ties, and the power that they have enjoyed.  They are, of course, “connectors.” Being a connector, Gladwell argues, is part of their DNA… it’s who they are. It’s how they think. In Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi talks about “power connectors,” who are such because of their role in society: lawyers, real estate agents, etc. They meet people all the time because of what they do.

I’m excited! I’m encouraged to find more “weak ties!” Before, I had the notion that I have a responsibility to take a “weak tie” relationship and make it a “strong tie” relationship… but Gladwell (and Granovetter) have given me permission to see this differently.

Don’t be concerned that the weak tie relationship gives you more work, but realize that getting more weak tie relationships give you more (networking) power!  The more you have, the more “worlds” you have access to.

Mind blown. Now, go out and network differently than you have before!


What if networking is not working? Or, how to network…

March 9th, 2016

A few years back someone said “I am not sure I know how to network.”  This person wanted guidance on how to greet someone, how to make conversation, what to talk about, etc.

Networking is supposedly the way most of us will find a job.  But some of us don’t (well) do it because (a) we don’t know how, or (b) we are uncomfortable doing it, or a combination of those.

Here are some fun posts I wrote years ago that touch on networking:

Networking Doesn’t Work April 2008

Networking Doesn’t Work (part II) – agree? August 2010

Why Networking Sucks In The Job Search (aka, Why Networking Isn’t Working) December 2008


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Nothing Says “Welcome to the Real World” Like an Influx of New Graduates (congrats anyways)

May 4th, 2015

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but when I saw this headline this weekend my first thought wasn’t “congratulations!!!!”  If one school graduates almost 6k people in May… how many new grads are getting dumped into our economy?


To the almost 6,000 new graduates (from undergrad to PhD)… welcome to the “real world.”  This is the real world your professors and adjuncts talked about for years… you see, there was this illusion that you were not in the real world while in school.

At least that is what I was told: “when you enter the real world…”

What a load of bull.

Here’s the deal: you’ve been in the real world for a long time.  And you made a business decision.  For many of you, the degree will be instrumental in helping you get your first or next job.  For many of you, it will settle in sometime in the next year that the degree was not helpful at all.  Looking at the years to pay off your student loans, you’ll wonder if the decision you made was a good one.  Yes, going to college was a decision… it was a business decision.  The college sold you a package, you paid for it (mostly likely financing it, like a business might). Now is not the time to have buyer’s remorse!

So don’t get discouraged that over 2 million people will earn degrees this year (1.8M undergrads alone, according to NACE).  Don’t be discouraged that there will many many hundreds of thousands of people who will get laid off, otherwise lose their jobs (companies dissolving), change companies, etc. Don’t become disheartened because many jobs have bounced out of your country to other, cheaper countries (and sometimes bounced back).  It’s not that you aren’t more talented or qualified for a career-level job, it’s just that, well, I guess, this is the real world.

Here’s something I learned, after having gotten a degree in CIS and an MBA, and having had job titles including manager and general manager: your education is about to begin.

Most of the facts and stuff you learned at school can be filed into the trivial pursuit box in your brain.  You won’t use much of it.

What you will use is the collection of skills that helped you get that degree.  Hopefully you worked hard, and pushed yourself beyond what you thought you could achieve.  Hopefully you learned about negotiation and persuasion, two key skills when working with others.  Did you learn anything about time management, while you juggled classes and work and social responsibilities? Did you learn about leadership, and how to be a follower, and team-player? Did you learn how to communicate effectively, whether that is written, verbal, etc.?  I hope you learned how to research, learn new things, find practical applications, and just dig in and study.

Those are the skills that you’ll need to tap into now.

You see, once you land your job, no one really cares where or what you studied.  They want to know what you can do, and if you’ll carry your weight.  That’s about it.  The other stuff is fun, but trivial.

Maybe your degree will matter for a little while, but the romance of it all will wear off.  If you are a crappy worker, no one will care (but they will think that your alma mater puts out crappy people – so now you have the burden of not tarnishing the brand of the school that you paid so much money to).  If you are an exceptional worker, people won’t care where you went to school, or what your GPA was.

I know, there are certain companies and industries that do care.  But those companies and industries probably don’t offer much more “job security” than any other company. If you can’t do the job, are distracting, inflict their culture with garbage and pompousness, then you’ll find yourself polishing up your resume.

I don’t mean for this to be a discouraging letter.  I just want to welcome you to the real world.  This is a world where what you can do, and how you communicate your brand, and how you nurture personal and professional relationships, is the new job security.  Or as I like to call it, the new career management.

And of the 2,000,000+ people who will graduate like you did this year, I guarantee that most will not get it.  I’ve seen this for years… they’ll take years, or decades, to figure out personal branding and networking.  If you want to have an easier career path, it’s time to transition into taking personal responsibility for your career, and get serious about your future.

The great thing about this is, if you start now, you won’t have to get student loans for this next phase of your education.

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New Course: Resumes and Self-marketing (for Software Developers)

April 14th, 2015

Last week my newest Pluralsight course went live: Resumes and Self-marketing for Software Developers

This is a course on what to do with your resume… how to use it to self-market, and basic understanding of the resume as a marketing tool.

Remember, for any Jason Alba course you watch on Pluralsight, and as many times as you watch it, you can get an additional 7 days of JibberJobber Premium… no limit! Follow these steps (or scroll down and watch the new video below the image to see exactly how to watch this for free, and get additional Premium on JibberJobber!).

Here’s Pluralsight’s announcement on Facebook:




Not sure if I’ve had anything on Facebook associated to me with that many likes!

Here’s the video on exactly how to do this:

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New On The Job? How To Announce Yourself To Customers

April 13th, 2015

I got this email from a sales professional last week:

“I manage a large territory for my company and I am fairly new here and have a lot of customers.

I have probably only met or talked with 20% of them which are the ones that purchase regularly. The other 80% have purchased in the past and it is very possible they could purchase more or have upcoming projects but they don’t know me or forgot about our company.

Should I send an email blast introducing myself?

This is different than a marketing blast, rather, it is a way for me to reach out to a lot of people but it takes away the personal touch.

Do I do that or take the time to address each one in a separate email with a generic this is who I am and what my company offers and contact me if you have questions, need help, etc.

My initial response was, YES, definitely do this.

I’ve been marketing myself, as a job seeker, and then my business, for 9+ years.  What I’ve learned is that if you do not put yourself in front of people, they forget about you.  You are responsible for getting and staying in front of your audience.

I’ve also learned that the initial contact is just barely breaking the ice.  They key is to get in front of them regularly, as appropriate.  That is one reason why you have CRM systems.  If your company doesn’t provide a CRM system to you, then use JibberJobber.  If your company does provide a CRM to you, but you are making great friendships and professional contacts that you want to take to your next job, then use JibberJobber :)

Here are my specific thoughts and reactions to this person’s questions:

Is this going to be okay with your company/boss?  I can’t imagine a sales professional getting into trouble for sending this type of email, but you might want to check with your boss.  They might know something about a customer they fired (that you shouldn’t get in touch with), or they might point you to some tools or queries to make what you want to do easier.

Should it be one bulk email (BCC, of course!) or multiple individual emails? Pros and cons of both.  I would say it depends on a few things… where are you sending it from?  If you send from a Gmail or Verizon or a personal account (which I wouldn’t recommend), they have daily sending limits.  Going over those limits might get you in trouble (ie, getting locked out of sending email for 24 hours). If you bulk send from your work account, and your email server is on blacklists, count on maybe 5% of your emails getting through (I don’t know the percentage, but just assume hardly any get through).  The idea of doing one bulk email is nice because it’s faster, but I’m not convinced it’s that reliable.

Sending individual emails is more reliable, I think, and you might do 20 – 50 each day. This will even help you manage the responses, over days, instead of all in the first day or two.  But it will obviously take more time. The real question is how many emails are you sending?  If it’s 10,000, do bulk and go from there.  If it’s just a few hundred, send a few dozen each day until you finish.

About the “personal touch,” you can easily do that with individual emails… but you can also do it in bulk.  There are programs you can use (like mailchimp, and even outlook) that can merge names with a general body of text…

What information should the email have?  The number one purpose of this email is to introduce yourself.  In doing that, you’ll reinforce the branding of your company (in other words, remind the customer that your company exists and has stuff for them). You should give them contact information… work and cell # (that’s how salespeople roll, right?).  Keep the email short… don’t go into new products, etc.  I would let them know I’m the new rep, I’m excited to be there, and I’m easy to reach (and I’m responsive).  I want them to know that I’m their partner and want to help their projects be successful.   I will include a one-liner about my company, like “we manufacture the best widgets for the _______.” so people can remember where I fit into their life.  And, as overwhelming as this might sound, I invite them to call me in the next week (or two) and tell me what projects they are working on, what they have coming up, any issues from past projects with our stuff, etc.

I want this email to start the relationship, and invite them to let us take it to the next level.  That might be a emails, it might be a phone call, it might be a face-to-face… but let me introduce you to me and let’s start a relationship.

How often should I follow-up?  What should the follow-up have?  Make sure this first email is not the last email.  As a customer I know I need multiple communications before I trust you, and I need you to hit me at or around the right time (or, when I’m in the market to buy your stuff).  I suggest doing a blast, en bulk, each month.  This can be short, it can talk about new products, or it can talk about case studies where your products/services helped other customers.  The last thing would be the most interesting read for me.  It keeps me engaged (because it’s fun to read), and shows me that you understand that my success is important to me, and it’s also important to you.  I’m not just a customer to help you meet your quota, but you really care. The key?  MONTHLY.

How do I justify future follow-ups?  What if I have nothing new to say or report?  Then create something.  Talk to your customers and ask them if they could share some of their wins with your list.  If you don’t get those stories, then create information that will help others… suggestions, tips, best practices, industry news, etc.  Don’t write too much – we all suffer from information overload, and you don’t want to be that email that I’m sure to delete.

Is that it?  Will I be successful with this strategy?  I don’t think so. I think you need to have an integrated sales/marketing approach… that is, pick up the phone. Meet customers in person.  Don’t just rely on email.  But you already knew that.

Now, get your email constructed, proof it for type-os and grammar, and make sure the messaging is exactly what your customers should understand, and then send it.  

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Is Networking a Waste of Time?

March 13th, 2015

A few weeks ago I saw a post on Facebook from career pro and friend Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter with this image:


I thought this was interesting because for me, 99% of my networking was indeed a waste of time.

I was doing it wrong.  I had a sour attitude.  I’m sure I repelled people.

It felt like a waste of time.  At that time in my life, it was indeed a waste of time.

I needed to fix myself, and my thinking, and my attitude.  I needed to learn how to network, and figure out what I was doing wrong.

Reading Never Eat Alone (Ferrazzi) helped.  If you have a few minutes, read this Harvard Business Review article: 99% of Networking Is a Waste of Time


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When Is The “Right Time” To Network?

March 6th, 2015

A few weeks ago I asked my daughter to take the car she drives all over town to get the tires rotated.  This is a simple procedure, and helpful to lengthen the life of tires… and I’m now bought into the idea that we need to do this.  I’m also bought into the idea that she should do it, and learn about vehicle maintenance by doing it.

So, she comes back to me and says that the tire tech said the two front tires needed to be changed, and that they they were running thin… I was kind of ticked (not at her) because these are less than a year old.  Even though they have a warranty that should cover them for years, I’m sure the tire people would say “well, sorry, but the alignment is off, and you haven’t rotated them lately… so it’s really all on you.”

I was not excited about spending a couple hundred dollars to get new tires. I was not excited about the time it would take to do this (I didn’t trust the salespeople with my daughter, who has never bought tires before). And frankly, I just wasn’t finding the time to get this task done.  The car doesn’t spend much time in the garage, and I have been very busy lately.

Last week my wife called me from school, where she was mentoring a class, and my daughter had come for a class… she said that the front tire was leaking air pretty bad.  I knew the time had finally come, and I had to table what I was doing and get the front tires replaced.

The thing is, this was admittedly stupid.

I should have taken care of this before… my daughter drives on the highway every evening to go to stuff, and if she had problems on the highway, it would have likely been a blow-out.  My mechanic told me that too many accidents are a result of bald tires that blow-out.  And the anguish and cost could be much worse than $200.

Long story short, I left work, took care of the tires while they were in school, and we’re all good.

Driving home I was thinking about how I didn’t make the time to fix the tires… there really was just not a good time to do it for me.  Just like when we have a job, and we put of career management stuff because we are too busy working, or resting from our work.  We neglect it.  The timing just doesn’t seem good enough.

And then, if you are like me, you are told that there is no more job, and all you have is time.  And then you wish that you would have addressed it earlier… but you were “too busy.”

Let me invite you to rethink what job security is.  It might have been a degree and a work ethic back in the 1990’s, but today it is the strength of your network (which is not how big your LinkedIn network is), and what people understand about you.

You can work on that, right now.  Today.  And tomorrow.  And the next day.  A little bit every day, whether you are in transition or not.

We were lucky to have avoided a blow-out on the highway.  Work on your network and brand, and you might avoid a blow-out in your career.


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LinkedIn Connections Are Not The End Goal

January 19th, 2015

I have gotten thousands of invitations to connect over the years.  Mainly this is because I have a pretty public persona, from starting JibberJobber, and then writing the book on LinkedIn. I have spoken across the US and have done many webinars to global audiences.  So people send me invitations… which I don’t have a problem with.

What I do have a problem with is the idea that getting a connection on LinkedIn seems to be the end goal.

In my LinkedIn trainings I’ve suggested that once you start a relationship with someone, you DO NOT ask them to connect with you on LinkedIn – yet.  Why?  Because connecting on LinkedIn, many times, means “we’re done communicating.”  It’s the end.  I have reached my goal, I have won.

Think about it – how many times have you connected with someone on LinkedIn, and then you never hear from them again?  How many times have you had a good conversation with someone, then invited them to LinkedIn, and then stopped communicating with them?

I’ve seen this too many times.  So my suggestion is to build the relationship more, and eventually connect… but make it clear that you are interested in the relationship a lot more than a somewhat meaningless connection on social media.

Go back to Friday’s post, about getting beyond superficial.  If you have a superficial relationship, and you connect, you haven’t really moved beyond superficial…. too many times, this end goal is a dead end.

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Getting Beyond Superficial: A Noble Goal of Every Job Seeker

January 16th, 2015

Yesterday I wrote about not following up, which might be the worst networking mistake of all time.

Towards the end I wrote “amazing things happen when you follow-up.”  I also wrote “see what happens” when you follow-up, to your networking, attitude, morale, and job search efforts.

I share this from personal experience of a horrible networker.  Playing Monday Morning Quarterback, I now realize that I was focusing on my own image, and I was focusing on numbers (how many new people I meet), but I most definitely was not focusing on real relationships.

I somehow thought that “networking” meant you meet more of the right people… but I didn’t realize that I should have been developing a relationship with them.  The relationship you have when you first meet someone is what I would consider “superficial.”  That is, you don’t really know them, they don’t really know you… and if you leave it that way, you are left in a position of not really being able to help one another.

I realized later that a main goal of my networking efforts should have been to go beyond superficial, and really start to get to know the other person.  As that happened, they would start to get to know me.  As we nurtured our relationship, we would be in a position where we could, and wanted to, really help one another.  We could trust the other person with our introductions, and they would trust us.  Our professional relationship would go beyond this job search… because this was not a relationship just because I was in need, looking for a job.

This is done with what I call multiple “touch points.”  That is, all of the different times that you communicate with, or are in front of, that person.  Send an email?  That’s a touch point.  Text, call, meet for lunch, see at a networking event and say hi?  Those are all touch points.  When you go out of your way to say hi, or when you send an email that is obviously personalized, that is an effective touch point.  Contrast that to forwarding junk or chain letters (NEVER DO THAT!!), or sending too many impersonal emails without ever sending something personalized…

A big part of our career management (which has taken the place of the 1900’s term: job security) is nurturing individual relationships.  Don’t make the same mistake I made and think that just adding more people to your list, meeting more people at a conference, constitutes “networking.”


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What is UNsocial Networking

December 23rd, 2014

Have you noticed one of the categories of this blog (to the left) is “UNsocial Networking?”  It’s towards the bottom of the list of categories.  But what in the world does that mean?

I created that tag with a chuckle…. after all how, how can you be unsocial and network at the same time?

Indeed, I’m not suggesting that you should be unsocial.  I wanted to make a distinction between old-fashioned, non-technology-based networking, and “social networking.”

While computer-based social networking is not going away, I think that we’ve gotten away from basic principles of relationships, hiding behind screens and canned messages and false relationships.  Sure, a lot of good does and can happen online… I’m even an advocate of using any tools at our disposal to accomplish what we need to (see my post on Career Management from yesterday).

I did, however, single out UNsocial networking because I want to focus on those principle-based strategies and tactics.  Let’s really focus on relationships, nurturing relationships, helping others, etc.  Pick up some old books, whether it is How to Win Friends and Influence People or any of Harvey Mackay’s networking books.  Learn about relationships beyond being Friends on Facebook or Connections on LinkedIn.  Don’t let those become the goal… lest you find your network is nothing but a house of cards.

Sound interesting? Check out some of my posts I’ve tagged as Unsocial Networking here.

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