A pertinent question I find myself asking after reading chapter five of Net Smart: How to Thrive Online by Howard Rheingold is what kind of networking fits for a young job seeker today? Chapter five, “Social has a Shape: Why Networks Matter,” delves into the complexities of networking and social media in our current digital age. One of the many topics discussed was the strengths and weakness of having a wide network of what Rheingold described as “weak ties” versus having a smaller network of “strong ties” by being a “bridge” between network communities on the internet. Examples of these “ties” are the number and types of friends one has on Facebook or one’s followers on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Now, when I talk about my future plans or share that I am a college students with older, working adults always provide the same advice: college is all about networking, make sure you make all sorts of connections if you want to be successful in the future. I am confident that I am not the only young adult who hears this from people, and I am also confident that I am not the only one who wonders how to go about making such connections. With this in mind and after reading about networking in Rheingold’s book, what kind of networking will help me propel me into my desired career?
Howard Rheingold describes user relationships within social media sites as opportunities for networking in this chapter using terms such as “strong ties,” “weak ties,” and “bridges.” Rheingold quotes a network expert named Granovetter stating that “numerous weak ties can be important in seeking new information or stimulating innovation,” and thus concluding that “[y]ou are more likely to find a job…if you have a large and diverse network of weak ties (206). However, later in the chapter Rheingold quotes another expert, Marc Smith, “If you look at a social graph of a population, the person with the most followers or the most connections might not be the most powerful person in that network” (206-207). Rather, Smith recommends users “to be a bridge,” meaning that you as a user should make more significant ties by being a connection between two separate networks as opposed to having numerous ties. These statements between Granovetter and Smith appear contradictory in this chapter, thus begging the question: which form of networking promotes success? Would I as a college student hoping to succeed in the future job market benefit from having numerous connections in a larger network or focus attention on perhaps fewer ties connecting different networks on the internet? Another article titled “Job Networking Tips” provides some insight into “strong ties” versus “weak ties” in the job market, specifically tip number six. However, this article recommends having both and is unclear as to how many ties is the most beneficial.