It’s time to get out more: building relationships that increase social capital

It’s time to get out more: building relationships that increase social capital

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

What is social capital?

The term ‘social capital’ has been around for almost a century, however it has only recently become popular. Referring to the: links, shared values and understandings in society, it provides both groups and individuals with strong social contacts and the trust they need in order to effectively work together. It is said to be the key to entrepreneurial success.

OECD divide social capital into three categories: bonds, bridges and linkages, with each one referring to the strength or level of your social link with another person.

The ability to move up, down, and sideways through different varieties of social networks is an important life skill, especially when it comes to maintaining relationships, and even a job. And although it is important to create a diverse network and to develop relationships across all of these categories, social bonds are particularly advantageous as they are most likely to have a positive emotional, social and economical impact on an individual. This is supported by a survey from 2016 found that 85% of jobs are filled as a result of networking, which demonstrates the concept that people don’t secure as many jobs through traditional methods (such as advertisements) as they do through personal contacts.

How do you build social capital?

To successfully build a strong network and social capital, you need to be especially proactive and strategic when networking in order to create solid relationships which support your career aspirations. (Bonnie Marcus discusses this further in her article which highlights 7 ways to build social capital to support your career advancement.)

Getting involved in networking early on, and fully immersing yourself within it, is thought to be an invaluable asset when learning how to effectively build a complex social capital. This is why my lecturer, Martin, encourages us students to get our name out there and to go to as many networking events as possible; to build relationships and pursue many great opportunities.

“A strong network is like money in the bank.”

However, building social capital isn’t just beneficial to students and those who are just starting out; it can be valuable to anyone. Chris Cancialosi identifies four main reasons social capital is the most important resource for businesses:-

  • It establishes you as a leader
  • It fosters reciprocity
  • It creates stronger teams
  • It’s natural networking
  • I’ve been to a networking event; now what?

    Once relationships have been built, they need to be maintained in order to be effective and valuable. To improve your social capital, it is important to deepen these relationships by staying in touch with your contacts and following up on any opportunities you come across. Another important step would be to make use of these connections by asking for assistance when you need it and offering your own help to others. People are always happy to help.

    Thanks for reading!


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