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Get Out of Your Bubble and Explore the Larger World

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Twice while I was speaking with Rohit Bhargava for this week's episode of Marketing Smarts, he stressed the importance of getting out of the "bubble."

He mentioned this first when I thanked him for citing the black, lesbian, feminist poet and activist, Audre Lorde, whose work I usually don't find mentioned in business books.

After thanking me for thanking him, Rohit suggested that bringing in a writer like Audre Lorde, where she is least expected, was a way of shaking things up and changing the usual frame of reference.

"We have to exit our little world," he said. "There's a lot of time we all spend in our own little bubble."

The Strength of Weak Ties

Said bubble made a second appearance when we were discussing the concept of "weak ties," a term coined in the 1970s by sociologist Mark Granovetter. In a paper entitled "The Strength of Weak Ties," Granovetter showed that when looking for a job, for example, we're more likely to get help from people who are one or two steps removed from us—friends of friends—rather than from our immediate inner circle.

The reason for this is simple: There probably isn't a significant difference between what we know and what the people closest to us know. Therefore, to find truly new opportunities, we have to move beyond this first tier of "strong" connections; we need "weak" ties.

Rohit put it this way: "You have to go outside that inner circle, that echo chamber bubble of people who know and believe exactly what you know and believe."

Get Out of Your Bubble!

I absolutely agree with Rohit. You have to get out of your bubble.

Unfortunately, that can be difficult. The bubble is known. The bubble is safe. The bubble is comforting.

But the bubble is a trap, too. It warps our perception because it convinces us that OUR world is THE world.

It's not. Whatever we are marketing and selling is only a small part of a far larger world. And, in fact, our customers, even when they are "business people," inhabit a place that is far more rich and complex than we are willing to consider when creating customer profiles and buyer personae.

So do what you can to get out. Get out of the office and talk to clients. Go to events where you are a stranger. Go to events with your colleagues and TALK TO STRANGERS. Read something you've never read before. Try something you've never tried before. Be someone you've never been before.

But whatever you do, get out of your bubble... before it's too late!

If you would like to hear my entire conversation with Rohit, you may listen here or download the mp3 and listen at your leisure. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

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My name is Matthew T. Grant, PhD. I'm Managing Editor here at MarketingProfs. I divide my time between designing courses for MarketingProfs University and hosting/producing our podcast, Marketing Smarts. You can follow me on Twitter (@MatttGrant) or read my personal musings on my blog here.

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  • by Holly Mon Oct 22, 2012 via blog

    Excellent point, Matthew. It's very easy to fall back on reading or experiencing only the things you already know. Our bubbles are comfortable, and it is a difficult urge to overcome.

    It still amazes me that although the Internet makes it possible to connect with peers across the globe, people are still likely to limit the news they read or the opinions they seek out to only what they agree with. One of my colleagues called it the "Paradox of Personalization":

  • by Matthew T. Grant Mon Oct 22, 2012 via blog

    I agree, Holly. You would think that access to a "world wide web" would actually expand our horizons. Instead, it seems to encourage immersion in an every wider echo chamber. I'll check out that post.

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