Many years ago (1973!), Mark S Granoveller published an article in the American Journal of Sociology on the Strength of Weak ties.
We all know many people and with some we have strong ties, these are our close friends and part of our social network, we understand each other, do things together, we’ve got their number programmed into our phone.
Others are more acquaintances – think of the people you know from Facebook or LinkedIn. Many of these are people that you don’t know well. We’ve bumped into them at events, lost touch with them but still exchange Christmas Cards. These are our weak ties.
These weak ties are important for expanding our knowledge into new areas, to tell us about a new restaurant or event we would otherwise not know about. They can play a vital role in networking into a new job, helping us to connect with people that they know, but we don’t.
Also, because they don’t know us as well they can often be more objective in their comments and help and make suggestions more helpful than those we get from close friends.
But … should you reach out when you need something when you’ve been out of touch for a long time. Think of it from their perspective, what have you done to help them?
So, it can be helpful to look for ways to stay in touch – send them a link to an article they may find interesting perhaps? That way you have some goodwill for if you need something from them in the future.
But if you need help now, make your request personable and short. Assume they are busy and be clear about what you seek, but also be clear that you would like to help them too.
The link to the article is an interesting, but academic read, but the jist is covered above.
You may also like to read my previous post on weak ties which you can find here.