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Just an old friend?

Once upon a time, my wife and I lived in a little apartment in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Fast forward a few years: we moved elsewhere.

Fast forward several more years: on a trip back to the Old City, we visited the landlady from our erstwhile apartment.

Here’s what I expected to get out of the visit: a good schmooze, some nice memories, maybe a coffee and some cookies.

Here’s what I ended up getting out of it: a referral - totally unsolicited - to a new six-figure donor.

How’d you manage that, Avraham??

Let’s take a peek at Adam Grant’s book “Give and Take.” In it, Grant teaches us how to sort the people we know into three categories:

  1. Strong ties
  2. Weak ties
  3. Dormant ties

Who do you have Strong Ties with?

People you’re close to. Your parents. Your siblings. Your Great Uncle Mechel. Your Daf Yomi chavrusah. Your work friends.

What about Weak Ties?

You’ve got those with your acquaintances. The guys who sit across the shul from you. The people you see at the grocery store. The neighbor down the block who you talk to once a year when your wife sends you over with mishloach manos.

Then, you have your Dormant Ties. And here’s where things get interesting.

Dormant ties are the connections you’ve lost contact with. The neighborhood kids you grew up with. The guys you learned with in Yeshivah. Your coworkers at the job you left ten years ago. Your parents’ old friends, who used to call you “tzaddik’l” and buy you Chanukah presents. And… the landlady you lost touch with after moving out of your old apartment.

Now, thinking as a fundraiser:

When a Strong Tie connects you to a new prospect, you’re in good shape. Because of who introduced you, you get to start your new relationship with a nice foundation of trust.

But we can’t just rely on our Strong Ties. Because their networks don’t usually look radically different from our own. We usually travel in the same social circles, have access to the same opportunities.

For broader networking, we’ve got our Weak Ties. They’re more likely to open up access to different social groups and opportunities.

But. To gain that access, we need to painstakingly turn these Weak Ties into stronger relationships. We need to somehow develop a rapport with that random school board member who drops his kids off the same time we do.

Which isn’t always comfortable.

So, often, we just don’t do it.

Enter Dormant Ties.

Dormant Ties can also open doors to new social networks and opportunities. But the process isn’t half as painful for us.

With dormant ties, we don’t need to build new relationships. We just need to rekindle the old ones. We start out with a strong foundation of trust.

(In this R' Yoel Gold story he did just that!)

Sure, Avraham, but it’s still uncomfortable. Yes, we have a history with them, but reviving dead friendships ain’t a piece of cake either.

True, true. Unless - they know you as a Giver.

Givers are people who do nice things for others without worrying about what’s in it for them.

  • The guy in camp who lent you half his clothes when your luggage got lost.
  • The older bochur who took extra time bein hasedarim to help you understand Shiur.
  • The teenhood friend who referred you to your first job, and plugged his ears anytime you tried to say thank you.

You’ve probably lost touch with all these people. But if they were to call you suddenly and try to reconnect, what feelings would come up for you?

Warmth, probably. Gratitude. “Oh, yes, of course I remember you! I’m still trying to find basketball shorts in that same crazy shade of orange…”

What about the people you’ve given to? Which Dormant Ties might view you as a Giver?

Reach out to them, and you’ll see - it won’t be awkward. They have hakaras hatov to you. They’d love to reciprocate.

And, like my landlady, they might just have a surprise goldmine waiting for you.

Even if you weren’t a Giver, the trust you’ve already built with your Dormant Ties is worth capitalizing on. Get back in touch, look for new opportunities to give - and you might just find a goldmine as well.

B'hatzlacha raba, 


© 2024 Avraham Lewis & Co.