When I was young my dad would often say “the people you know have a great influence on what you get in life’’. He would go on to add, ‘’the friends you have today will be the people your children will count as family friends’’. ‘’What kind of family friends would you want?’’, assertively he would ask.
Social capital is how much value you get or are capable of getting from human interaction, links, bonds, and relationships with people in your life.
Your social network is your social capital. The quality of people in your social network determines the benefits and positive attributes you need to succeed in what you do. What you do matters a lot to succeed in life.
However, one thing that we often forget or do not give much regard is ‘’Who you know’’. There are so many great talents who have been unable to show their work due to the lack of the right person to give them a hand. So many average talents like actors, musicians, businessmen, etc have been able to achieve their goals due to access to the right people.
Some people are privileged with an already quality social network of socially, financially, spiritually, emotionally, and physically reliable friends or families.
Others have magnetic and attractive attributes like high social intelligence, storytelling skills, humor, etc that help them attract high-quality networks to their social circles.
Then there are people like me who at some point just couldn’t access the networks I wanted. You may be an introvert, you may be born and raised in a society with people whose energy doesn’t match yours. That is okay. By the end of this article, you will be able to create the right network and expand your social circles to increase your social capital.
Elements of social capital
The ability to reciprocate what you get from your social network increases your social capital greatly. It makes you reliable and of high value to society. Going out of your to give more than you are given influences people to be honored to give you when you ask because they trust that at some point they will enjoy some benefits from you.
People like to relate with those they have a lot in common. It is for this reason that you will go to the US and find the Chinese community, Russian community, etc. A Chinese in the US will be more inclined to help another he identifies with.
In a group of socialists, the one who least believes in the ideology will be trusted less. The community or a social network usually levies sanctions on the individual who does not behave according to the set norms.
The quality of networks that people in your social circles have also greatly contribute to how much social capital you have. If your social network has access to other networks with people, connections, and qualities you need, you will easily get benefits that help push you to success.
If your social network is full of drug addicts and unfocussed people, chances are you won’t find the right connection to your dream job.
Types of social capital
Bonding social capital
The strongest and most reliable type of social capital. It is the connections between people of the same characteristics. Take, for instance, age, hobbies, work, teammates, etc.
Bonding social capital is usually created through social settings and built on a strong foundation. It is the kind of social capital between you and that colleague you have worked with for many years.
That close friend that you have endured tough situations with. The trust in this type of social capital is too high in that one can go out of their way to help you than they normally would do with someone else.
Reciprocity is too high because of the past record of shared generosity. In terms of norms, the parties involved have a lot of things in common. In such a type of social capital, there are little to no networks that the parties do not share in common.
This type of social capital is weaker compared to Bonding. The connections come from friends of friends and other subsidiary networks. The constant factor here is that networks spread horizontally because it is only within people of the same socioeconomic group.
For example, musicians get to know other musicians and leverage on each other bridged by music. The trust is minimal because despite the commonality not so much is shared in common.
Therefore social capital depends on how much you can reciprocate and other networks you have. Not much regard is given to norms. In case the bridge is a highly trusted person, one can go out of their way to help the other person on the opposite side of the bridge.
Linking Social Capital
Linking spreads vertically as opposed to bridging. The connections in bridging spread within members of the same socioeconomic group. With linking, connections or benefits of social capital spread from one socioeconomic group to another different one.
Take for instance: celebrities and millionaires financing students from unprivileged societies access scholarships. Zac Efron became a close friend to his fan Ahmed Ture.
Examples of Social Capital
Existing studies have shown a high employment rate in communities with high social capital. It is easy to find a job in a network of people who work or run different companies. They can easily recommend you or employ you.
In Africa, communities organize social functions like weddings, graduations, funerals, etc. A person with high social capital will have a bigger and more expensive wedding compared to another with less. In case you are very connected to a lot of people who trust you, they will easily support you when you need it.
Free access to very expensive or important information.
When you have quality networks you can freely access information that many people would pay thousands of dollars to access.
Take for instance; senior stock traders on wall street know trends of stocks and close to accurate predictions that other amateur traders would want. If you are with a network of senior traders you will be able to access that information free of charge in their conversations or by straightforwardly asking them.
Access to financial capital.
Many individuals and organizations have been able to access markets, bank loans, and other sources of finance because of their affiliation with trusted and high-value members of society.
Advantages of social capital.
Easy access to resources
You will easily access resources like financial capital, tools, information. People are willing to share all the above if they trust and know you.
A head-start ahead of your competition.
If you have access to social support you will achieve success faster than your competitor who has a small or no social network.
Sense of belonging.
With social capital, you have reliable people who will help you through your challenges, and in case of any failure, you leverage on them to get back up. You will not feel alone.
Access to social capital saves you the daunting time of having to start from scratch or figuring out things on your own since there is always someone experienced to give a hand or guide you.
How to build quality networks for high social capital.
If you have no network, have one you are not proud of, or even want to expand it for more social capital, stop scratching your head. Here are the most efficient ways to attract and build the network you need to give you the social capital you want.
You will not find the people you need by sitting in front of your Tv screen the whole day every day. Get out there and experience life in its full entirety. Go hang out at the places where the people you want to network with go.
Do things that increase your interaction with people. Very many people out there have what you need and guess what? They are also looking for social interaction. If you do not have people to network with, there are very many places you can start from to create networks.
Sign up for membership at a local gym, join volunteering clubs, go to a local bar, social clubs of people doing things you can enjoy, and many more. Denzel Washington once said ‘’If you hang around a barbershop for a long time, soon enough you will get a haircut”.
Your first day or week at a gym or local bar may not yield much. But if you keep showing up often, people will get familiar with you and welcome you into their hearts. That is if you show interest in them by at least doing the basics like greeting and smiling at them. Don’t be a creep who just sits in a corner with the do not disturb look.
2. Develop a strategy.
What kind of people do you want to associate with? What do they want? Where do they hang out from? What are their hobbies etc? This might sound like a lot of work but the truth is if you want the fruits of quality networks most especially if you are not privileged to be raised in them, you have to be intentional about it.
It is not evil or opportunistic in any way. You are creating the life you need. Do not let your life go by the flow, take the wheel and turn it in the direction you want. Find out where the people you need are and be intentional about getting into their networks.
Do not do it so directly for you may come off superficial or raise suspicion. A small greeting or comment a day will lay a seed for a 5minutes conversation that will, in turn, lead to an invite for lunch or dinner. If it means faking unplanned encounters do it. Visibility and showing up lay the firm foundations for relationships.
3. Diversify your networks.
It is important to have a network of people of different capacities. This does not only help you to easily access the help you may need but also enable you to link opportunities. Imagine knowing a real estate investor and a friend who is looking for a house to buy. You can easily link those two and earn a commission.
A diversified network justifies the saying that ‘’your network is your net worth’’. If you own a company, have an expert auditor, marketing consultant, sales team growth advisor, a trusted low-level manager, etc. This will keep you exposed to information that will be so beneficial to your company’s development.
4 Increase your value.
To attract the kind of network you want, you have to have what will attract it. If you want a movie director to give you a role, you have to have at least basic acting skills. If the movie director sees potential in you, he or she will perceive you as valuable and worth giving a chance.
If you want to trap a rat, you have to use food that will attract it to the trap. Now am not asking you to maliciously trap other people. Have good intentions at the same time aware that using baiting isn’t a crime.
Kevin Hart uses humor to attract most of the people he wants in his network. Increasing your value means doing things that make you perceived as knowledgeable, reliable, good-looking, inspiring, worthy, respected, etc. This may call for taking a public speaking course, going to the gym to get in shape, learning a skill, etc. Also develop interpersonal social skills like listening, various etiquette, etc.
5 Build favor banks with generosity and kindness.
Be that kind of person everyone is looking forward to helping or giving. If you want to receive from people, GIVE PEOPLE. Blessed is the heart that gives. Give everything you have to get everything you need.
Am not asking you to sell your house and give away the money, no. Am asking you to give your best in everything. If it is to help a friend learn a skill, train them with all the best you can to do it. Go out of your way for someone and the universe will link you with people who will go out of their way for you.
When you give or help someone, you are depositing in your bank favors that will come to you when you need them.
You do not have to give money only, compliments, a hand, protection, advice, guidance, a good joke, a smile, etc. As cheap and free as they may come, they have a great impact on people.
6 Nurture your relationships.
Do not be the kind of person that only calls when you need help. Keep in touch with your networks, old friends, distant friends, etc. Give them a call often to know how they are doing and show that you care. Do it and mean it.
Your networks already know who you are and what you are capable of. However, they need continuous assurance of your commitment to their relationship. You will never know when you will need them. It will be unfortunate and heartbreaking to them when you call them after a long time with a request for help.
7 Use social media
We have a plethora of social media platforms helping people all around the world connect with each other. I have met so many people online that have greatly impacted my life. I have done business with many.
I have a friend Martina from South Africa. We have interacted online for seven years now without meeting. She knows a lot about me and the reverse is true. We have relied on each other financially and emotionally so many times.
Even though it is often misused, with the right intentions and cautiousness, social media can be a great way to meet people. Platforms like Business Network International and LinkedIn have helped so many people access priceless resources.
8 Ask for help.
Ask and you shall be given. Just like you who understands that an opportunity to give or help someone is a good way to create and build networks, there are so many people out there willing to help or give. If you need something, ask the person you believe can help.
Do not succumb to the fear of rejection, your anticipation of a ‘’NO’’ is a result of a deep-rooted survival mode that keeps you scared of exploring the unknown. Go to that company and ask for the job you want. If you do not get it, know that you at least tried. Understand that you wouldn’t get it if you gave in to the voice that was stopping you. Rejection is better than no attempt at all.
9 Be authentic.
Someone trying so hard always ends up exposed. Do not go overboard to force a relationship or connection with someone. Do not create friendship from a place of need or vulnerability. People like surrounding themselves with self-reliant people.
Be able to let go of a friendship or network if it is not coming as you hoped. If someone shows no interest in you, accept the rejection and move on. Respect their choice and not be offended.
Do not beg or show despair. You may get desperate but never show it. Also, make sure that your intentions with people are genuine. Do not intend to just use them. Be willing to give as you receive. Do not try to be what you are not.
There is a difference between learning to be the person you want to be and faking to be that person. If you want to join a network of skilled stock traders to learn from them, do not pretend to be like them. Authentically show them that you are less skilled but willing to learn. They will also be willing to help you.
Follow Robert Greene’s first law of the ‘’48 laws of power’’. ‘’Never outshine your master’’. By the mere fact that they are more skilled, they are your master at that point. Act as a student to them then you can learn from them.
10 Raise others up
You can never develop sustainable growth in any field of your life by building yourself at the expense of others. You will only incite resentment, hate, aggression, and enmity towards yourself. By lifting others, we lift ourselves.
Be willing to defend your networks in their absence. Be willing to mention the names of your networks in a room full of opportunities. That which you give to them will come back to you in a myriad of ways you can’t fathom. Malicious acts or words whether said overtly covertly will always be noticed by people. Their attitude towards you will be altered which in turn will affect your social capital.
11 Be patient.
You are going to do a lot of good for people which you won’t see reciprocated. You will create networks and relationships with people who at some point may seem not to be helpful to your cause. I want you to know that a seed takes time to grow into a plant to bear fruits.
Some of the best or most paying deals I have ever closed came from people with whom I had made effort to become friends but had to patiently wait for them to trust me enough to give me referrals to my customs clearing company. If you show impatience to the people you want to network with they will detect it, smell a rat and withdraw.
In conclusion, growing or raising social capital takes the same effort as increasing or sourcing financial capital. You will need something to start with which is you, your skills, your values, your kindness, your generosity, your social skills, your altruism, etc. Your efforts to invest in yourself and cultivate valuable skills and attributes will attract people in your life who you can leverage to influence your ambitions to take a positive trajectory.