In a world driven by connections and relationships, social capital is arguably the key currency for any individual or business’ success. Fortunately, or sadly, growth and opportunity in life and business is more often than not rooted in “who you know” rather than “what you know.” If you do not have a strategic individual or business plan around increasing and leveraging your social capital, then you are missing out on, potentially, your greatest opportunity in 2024.
Technically speaking, social capital refers to the networks of relationships and the associated norms of reciprocity and trust that exist within them. Investing time and effort into building and nurturing these connections can yield substantial returns, both personally and professionally.
So, how do you increase your social capital? To avoid giving you a redundant networking 101 summary, here are 3 strategies that we think will make the most of your networking in 2024 and building up some social capital that bring about a real ROI.
Strategy #1 – Target Intentionality, Not Quantity
Initially, we are all taught to attend networking events and not leave till you’ve met dang near everyone in the room. We challenge that notion. Social capital is not just about the quantity of connections but also the quality of relationships. Authenticity, trustworthiness, and reciprocity are essential elements that contribute to the strength of social bonds. Simply trying to say “Hello. My name is. Yours? This is how you can help me. Here is my card.” is a shallow effort that quickly becomes how you are seen, shallow.
The sweet spot is going beyond just hitting numbers and not swinging too far to only talking to 1 person the entire time out of nervousness. Challenge yourself to have a handful (3 to 5) of intentional interactions where you accomplish 3 goals in the conversation.
Goal #1 – Listen to them and understand what they do or need.
Goal #2 – Share how you think you can add value to them or how you will be on the lookout to add value when you see something relevant to them.
Goal #3 – Clearly communicate what you do and what you are looking for (i.e., connections, support, clients).
At a 60-minute networking event? Hit those 3 goals and you will have no problem walking away with at least 5 new and amazing contacts rather than just a stack of business cards.
Strategy #2 – Consider Your Workspace’s Existing Network
The best way to build referral partners, find mentors, and future partners is by being in proximity to them! Something we share with people looking for a professional coach or debating between professional service providers (i.e., CPAs, lawyers, outsourced HR) is to ask “If I hire this person/group, would I benefit from getting access to their network?” We think that you should have the same consideration for the type of workspace you choose.
For example, if you are a real estate agent and you want to work with high-end home buyers, then you should get a coworking or office space in an area where those people live and work. If you want to work with real estate investors, then you should build your home base in a neighborhood where investment is happening or in a workspace built by investors. Where you choose to have proximity is a significant asset in getting you access to a new network that can meaningfully add to your personal and business’ overall social capital.
This is an area where coworking spaces have begun to dominate the workspace industry and a strong reason why you should consider touring one or two of them if you’ve never been in such a space. They focus on connectivity and community. It is less about renting your 4 walls, but renting in a space that provides you access to a wide array and depth of social capital.
In your next office or workspace search, ensure that your team has “social capital” as a top line item for consideration.
Strategy #3 – ONLY Attend Targeted Events or Industry Based Groups
In real estate the golden rule is “Location. Location. Location.” In networking it is “Focus. Focus. Focus.” Not all networking events or groups are created equal. The wider the net, the less chance there will be any content, engagement, or people relevant to you, your business, or your social capital needs.
We would never recommend going to a networking group that is just happening for the sake of meeting other business owners. Ensure that the organizer has some criteria or focus that is bringing people, like you and adjacent to you, together. That is why we are so bullish on industry-based groups and continue to create more of them here at Refinery46. Come with an abundant mindset, learn industry insights from your peers, and development long-term relationships that can become strong referral partners and maybe even future business partners.
When a networking event or group is shared with you, simply ask the following questions to determine if you should go or not:
- Is the focus of the event or group relevant to me and my business? Or do I have to convince myself it will “probably be good for me or the business?”
- Will the other people attending be people that excite me to meet personally or professionally?
- Would the time I spend at this event be better spent getting coffee and having a focused conversation with someone else already in my network?
It’s important to note that the return on investment in social capital is not always immediate. Building meaningful connections takes time, and the benefits may unfold gradually. However, the long-term dividends are often more sustainable and substantial than quick, transactional gains.
If you want to take creating your 2024 social capital strategy seriously, then contact us here at Refinery46 by giving us a call at (317) 434-4039 to request a tour. We’d be happy to be the catalyst for connection for you and your team.