Our Weak Ties | Using Weak Ties Theory

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It’s not always the people closest to you who will support your business ventures. That’s true, and often a little bit heartbreaking.

It’s not their fault. Family and friends often warn and discourage us from striking out on our own due to fear – fear of us failing, fear of our own sadness, fear of our disappointment. It hurts to see a loved one in upset. When our ideas don’t work, we can feel so much shame, anxiety and regret.

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About a year ago (before changing my name) I wrote an article for The Cusp  about how a more diverse friendship group can help us grow in our careers. At the time it was definitely a psychological unpacking – I was growing apart from old groups of friends, and finding more in common with the PHDs I worked with at my office job than the people I had been dumpster diving with for food (not kidding) as a uni student.

Part of the article discusses Meg Jay’s incredible Ted X Talk ‘Why Thirty is not the New Twenty’ and how new experiences often come from what are known as our ‘weak ties’.

In her talk Jay, author of The Defining Decade, urges young adults to experience new things, and reach new levels, by reaching out to those who are their weak ties. In my professional past I have utilized this advice in a sense – by reaching out to brands that liked my content, and editors, to create new work for myself as a blogger, and brand journalist.

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Most recently I struck out on my own, creating a clothing line aimed at both women in the adult industry, and our allies, a podcast and a Patreon account, to effect a business designed to reduce the stigma surrounding women in the adult industry, and help those of us in the industry to transmute the skills we learn into other areas of business and life. The first people to follow the Instagram, or pledge to the Patreon were not, in fact, my close friends, or my family – they were readers and viewers of my channel, Twitter followers and bloggers or women in the adult industry with large-scale followings that like my work without a personal preoccupation.

They were people I do not know personally, but people who had found my accounts through a mutual respect and enjoyment of each others work and creative direction. They were my weak ties.

According to Social Media Today, ‘These ties encourage sharing of information across different groups.’ Our weak ties can peak interest from their group to ours. Therefore a connection with one person in a particular demographic can prove invaluable to a job opportunity or business.

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In fact, my interest in the adult industry came from weak ties – women who I wasn’t great friends with, but who knew each other through mutual connections, and who opened my own eyes to the shades of grey within that industry. Showing me what it really was, and who the women in the industry truly are. My entering the industry came from a place of survival, once I was a part of the industry, the different issues faced by women of the industry according to their circumstances came from more weak ties, acquaintances, conversations in bathrooms and over Instagram DM. My recognising of my own privileges within the industry, based on these conversations, and the information many women did not have, also helped me find a niche for my social media channels – to create a space for information on business skills within the industry. Not all women in the adult industry need this information, but many do.

“Weak ties might bring you the crucial information about a new job opportunity, a new start up business or new connections into other areas of your peripheral business. Your relationship with your weak ties should be maintained and cultivated, knitting your networks together to encourage information free flow between the different parts of your networks. This information flow could be information you need to get ahead in your own work, or it might be recommendations and information about your skills and abilities to get you the job / contract / opportunity you’ve been looking for.”

Weak Ties can also keep us aware – aware about circumstances that don’t affect us, social constructs that we are not a part of, ideas that are outside of our grasp that are important to keeping an impartial view on different demographics and understanding the struggles people within our varied communities are facing. Often when conversations and shared stories move through different groups of people, ground can be broken to finesse a new idea into something tangible.

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Jay warns us that those who stay in the same groups don’t open themselves to new experiences, ways of learning, speech and more. One of the easiest ways to change your life is by reaching out to new people – and seeing what happens.

There is more than one psychological theory that expresses this phenomena – from six degrees of separation, to the butterfly effect – in their own way these theories, that can often feel more like myth or magic than science, express the reality that small changes have big impact. Movements that at first felt weak, possess undeniable strength.

Cali

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