The Tipping Point of Bacon

The Tipping Point of Bacon

Awhile ago, I posted an an entry on another blog focusing on Google’s new Bacon Number algorithm in the context of LinkedIn’s new board-focused search feature. But for many of us seeking employment, we tend to hear certain buzzwords a little too repeatedly….and inaccurately.

We all know people who’ve used them – words like “maven” and “connector”, especially in social media channels. You know the terminology – things going “viral” and “like an epidemic”. You often find yourself wondering why you’re not necessarily “in the know”.

In an effort to have fun – and help educate and have fun while discussing job seeknig – this is your easy to understand guide to The Tipping Point, the Malcolm Gladwell book that gets cited by many at various meetups, networking events, and in the context of the job search…but often without understanding Gladwell’s thinking.. (I strongly encourage you to read it, and also encourage you to visit your local branch of the Chicago Public Library).

Essentially, Malcolm Gladwell’s book describes change as being like an epidemic – that small changes, over time, eventually lead to a major change. In encouraging change, there are often several select individuals (aka “The Law of the Few”) who serve to make a direct impact. These people are:

  • Connectors – people who know people, and more importantly – are able to introduce and help make connections. Think of Kevin Bacon as the ultimate connector – as a busy actor, he has worked with a wide variety of other actors, creating great working relationships. In networking for a job, it’s not just about finding positions and gaining contacts – it’s about building relationships.
  • Mavens – these are people who are “in the know”, or as Gladwell calls them, “information specialists”. They’re the ones who are willing – and able – to point out ways in which critical issues can be solved. They’re more likely to guide you towards how to apply at a company, for example, than to tell you to “fill out more job applications”. These are also key relationships to cultivate while networking.
  • Salesmen are….well, persuaders. They are able to sell and promote key ideas.

But how does this apply to my job seeking? You may ask. Part of networking for employment means focusing on areas where you can connect with people who hire, but also knowing who can serve as “mavens” and people who have specific experience in areas of interest.
What also helps is knowing two of Gladwell’s other working principles, namely

  • The Power of Context – if I am attending a large scale, heavily promoted networking event that is focused on driving large numbers of attendees, my job seeking and networking ability is less than, say, attending a smaller professional association where I am more likely to meet people in my chosen field; and
  • The Stickiness Factor – “Stickiness” is how memorable a message is within a specific context. In networking, how am I standing out amongst a crowded field of people? What unique balance am I bringing to an employer? (Answer – a business-oriented mind combined with a collaborative mindset and a mission-based orientation).

The Tipping Point is recommended reading for anyone, but for job seekers, it’s a must – if anything, Gladwell does an exemplary job in explaining how small changes lead to a greater change…and has some great practical tools for job seekers to apply to their efforts.
Don’t believe me? Well, there’s a reason why the concept of a “Bacon number” exists…and yes, Tipping Point explains the concept of “six degrees of separation”.
As always, you’re more than welcome to leave comments and questions below, or if you wish to contact me directly, please do so via Linked In (just mention Job Stalker in your note) or via my web site’s contact page.
As always, thanks for reading! 

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