Keeping in touch is hard. Nudge aims to fix that. The Toronto-based company is developing a software platform to help business professionals keep tabs on “weak ties,” acquaintances they may have interacted with a few times, but are not particularly close with. Nudge, currently in beta, keeps track of these contacts, and suggests when you can get in touch with someone again to restart a conversation.
Co-founder and CTO Steve Woods argues weak ties are important, and can help business people find new opportunities, among other things. He explains why there’s a need for Nudge.
PROFITGuide: What is Nudge?
Steve Woods: Nudge helps builds business professionals stay in touch with weak ties in their network—all the people you intend to stay in touch with but as time passes the effort to stay in touch is just too much and you lose touch. These are great connections that could be wonderful opportunities for your career, for skills you need, for perspective. Nudge helps you keep those weak ties alive and well.
How important are weak ties?
Studies have shown that the strong connections we have don’t change much over time and generally these people are in the same spot as you. They’re in the same industry, they have the same perspectives, same skills, and so they don’t expose you to new opportunities, new skills, and new people. That’s what weak ties do. They’re the people you don’t stay in touch with that frequently, but they’re a little bit different than you. They’re in a different role, different company, or industry.
If you look at what amazing networkers do, they’re able to keep in touch with weak ties, remember them and bring them to the forefront when an opportunity is about to happen—asking for an introduction from somebody, or asking for perspective, for example. People that are amazing networkers are the ones who draw together a set of folks who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to come together. So the reason they’re weak is not because they’re not important; it’s because they’re so many of them.
How exactly does Nudge work?
People stay in touch because there is a reason to reach out and help somebody. Maybe you notice something they did and want to comment on it, or you see their company mentioned in the news. The challenge with doing that manually, it’s just too much to keep track of.
Nudge does all of the background work for you. It keeps track of the people in your network, what they’re doing, what they’re working on, what their interests are, and it looks at what’s happening in the world today and sets up opportunities for you to restart a conversation that may have gone quiet over the last six months. You can restart based on something mentioned in the news, or a topical article that might be of interest.
I see in your demo video that Nudge will recommend you send a specific article to a specific contact, for example, to restart a conversation. It even suggests text you can put into an email. Why go that far?
Yes, it can suggest text. However, we’re really just trying to prompt you to get started. At the end of the day, it really comes down to you and your relationship with that person to craft a great message. We’re doing all of the background work to bring it to you on a silver platter.
Relying on an algorithm to tell you when to get in touch with someone, and even what to talk to them about, seems to be removing humanity from relationships, doesn’t it?
I hear what you mean, and we definitely believe that humanity is what makes that relationship happen. If I notice an interesting article that you wrote, it’s up to me to bring that in as part of our relationship and restart the conversation. That human element is not something that Nudge is trying to do, or that technology is even capable of doing. Nudge is doing all of the grunt work behind the scenes to keep track of what’s going on in the world today and not let opportunities be missed. Reaching out to say, “Hey, how you been? What’s going on in the your world?” that’s on me as a person. But the work to set up that opportunity is something technology can help with.
How will you make money?
The product for an individual will be free. For a team of business professionals, it will be a paid product. The pricing will be monthly, but we haven’t worked all the details yet.
How will you sell this to business? Surely they’re going to want to see some proof of what this can do for the bottom line.
There’s a couple of areas where we’ve seen huge interest from people who manage sales teams. This is the first time they’ve been able to see through the lens of relationship strength and trust as it relates to the deal cycle.
Right now if you look at how deals are created or the way they’re assessed, it’s all based on essentially the sales rep saying, “I think this has about a 10% chance of closing.” That’s wild guess work. We can see whether you have relationships with people in the buying centre, and how strong they are. If you start looking at the deal and saying, “this has an 80% chance of closing,” but you have no relationships with any of the people in the buying centre, that’s a red flag. It’s that level of insight that have gotten sales managers very excited about this.
What do you think of Woods’s plans for Nudge? Share your (constructive) thoughts and feedback in the comments below.
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