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Weak ties in LinkedIn

As a career networking website, LinkedIn faces the challenge of applying all the real-world networking opportunities to the web, and converting them to a much larger scale. One of the most popular job search tips, which has also been discussed in class, is to always look for new connections through weak ties. The majority of employees were brought in contact with their current employer via their acquaintances, rather than their strong ties, a fact that can be explained by the strong triadic closure rule. A person’s close friends don’t usually have any additional connections to suggest to that person, because everyone is at least acquainted with their strong friends’ ties.

How did LinkedIn take advantage of this pattern? Instead of just letting you know about your first degree connections – ‘mutual friends’, using the Facebook term— with a company or person that you are interested in, LinkedIn also introduces you to the second degree connections. These are the people that are connected to your connections, but not to you.  Given that job offers are most probable to result from networking with these people, internet posts with advice on most effective use of LinkedIn always emphasize the significance of this feature. This article on Forbes also mentions the importance of people who attended the same university as you (paragraphs 3 and 4). LinkedIn includes them as your connections with a company, even if they are not connected to anyone you know—it considers the university to be a mutual connection, suggesting that it is likely to be brought in touch with a company through people you went to school with. As the attached article claims, indirect links like these can contribute to a successive job search through LinkedIn, a social network that has managed to apply the most important job search tools of real life to the web.



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