Many books talk about the difference between “strong ties” and “weak ties” in your network, and understanding the difference can be very beneficial.
Strong ties are the roughly 150 people that you can stay in regular contact with, known as “Dunbar’s Number“. These are your friends and colleagues that you see regularly, and it’s difficult to hold many more than that at a reasonable level.
On the other side are your weak ties, who are more tenuous relationships that you perhaps send a Christmas card to, and they’re generally a little surprised if you reach out. Even with the minimal contact, however, studies show that they’re essential to a solid network.
That said, I think there is a group in the middle as well, and that’s one that I’ve been working to build over the past few years. Let’s just call them medium ties. This group takes effort to maintain, as you’re already involved with your 150 strong ties, and stretching beyond that is difficult. There is technology that can help, though, and you can expand the size of your network that is somewhere in this “medium” area.
By using a tool like Nat or Dex , you can help keep those medium ties more top of mind. Those tools will likely pull in some of your strong and weak ties, but I think their strength lies in the middle. Looking at my current list on Nat, it shows a total of 287 people for me to stay in touch with, and my list in Obsidian is at a slightly higher 322 people (and likely dozens differ between the two lists).
I think it would be difficult to maintain any semblance of medium ties without the use of some technology, whether it’s Nat, Dex, Obsidian or even just an Excel document on your desktop. Your top priority should always be to keep your strong ties strong, and enjoy connecting with those folks regularly, but I think many of us have room for more medium ties in our life, and those people can be a fantastic way to help keep life enjoyable.
Do you use any tool to help make sure you don’t lose touch with people?
It’s very important to keep track of your contacts. Good food for action! When I started out on my own, I thought I could just randomly get in touch w people (shotgun approach) and attend as many networking meetings I could to generate leads. It wasn’t until I started tracking leads (and following up) plus tracking referrals that I found a sweet spot and ocus.
Mickey Mellen says
Well said. Follow-up is so huge, and I love some of the tools that we have these days to make it a little easier. Not automated, which is often overused, but just a reminder to “check back in with Kristina” can be so helpful!
I am pretty terrible at this (going beyond the 150 or so). I may have to start tracking in Obsidian or try out one of these other tools.
Mickey Mellen says
Nat and Dex make it pretty easy. Obsidian is a little more manual, but I prefer it because it ties into everything else (I can see when I had calls before, lunches, etc). Once built out, it’s pretty sweet.