Most kids are told to avoid talking with strangers. Parents will instruct them to answer the phone or door a certain way, especially if no one else is home. Safety, of course, is the reason for this since kids don’t have enough experience to discern these situations and spot potential danger.
Unfortunately, many of these same kids grow up into adults without learning the importance of strangers, and how to cultivate these opportunities into great relationships. As a young adult, some of the best advice I received from my father was “to do business with strangers, not friends.” He went on to explain that the times that he and my mother had chosen to do business with friends, they usually ended up disappointed and sometimes even left the relationship strained going forward.
Occasionally I’ll hear job seekers mention that they feel like they’re in a rut during their search. Usually this occurs when they continue to talk with the same network of close friends rather than consistently expanding their contacts through new interactions. A major emphasis of this blog is to encourage people to make networking a lifestyle, not just a job search strategy. The best way to do this is to learn how to talk with strangers!In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, he references a 1974 study by Mark Granovetter calledGetting a Job. It examines how 282 people found their jobs, and proves that who you know far outweighs what you know. It also mentions that acquaintances, or “weak ties,” are far more effective than close family and friends, or “strong ties.” This is because family and friends already share similar networks, where acquaintances know more people that you don’t.
If you’re unsure how to do this, here is an article I highly recommend that you check out: