Magnetic Permeability is the ability of a material to get magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field. The reed blades of a reed switch are made of a Nickel-Iron alloy which are magnetically permeable and this is what causes the reed blades to attract each other in the presence of a magnetic field.
In electromagnetism, permeability is the measure of the ability of a material to support the formation of a magnetic field within itself otherwise known as distributed inductance in Transmission Line Theory. Hence, it is the degree of magnetization that a material obtains in response to an applied magnetic field. Magnetic permeability is typically represented by the (italicized) Greek letter µ. The term was coined in September 1885 by Oliver Heaviside. The reciprocal of magnetic permeability is magnetic reluctivity.
In SI units, permeability is measured in henries per meter (H/m), or equivalently in newtons (kg⋅m/s2) per ampere squared (N·A−2). The permeability constant (µ0), also known as the magnetic constant or the permeability of free space, is a measure of the amount of resistance encountered when forming a magnetic field in a classical vacuum. The magnetic constant has the exact (defined) value (µ0 = 4π × 10−7 H·m−1 ≈ 12.57 × 10−7 )
In the SI system which is going into force in 2019, this value needs to be determined experimentally; 4π × 1.000 000 000 82 (20) 10−7 H·m−1 is a recently measured value in the new system. It will be proportional to the dimensionless fine-structure constant with no other dependencies.
A closely related property of materials is magnetic susceptibility, which is a dimensionless proportionality factor that indicates the degree of magnetization of a material in response to an applied magnetic field.