Social Capital is defined by Ash Ali & Hasan Kaubba in their book "The Unfair Advantage as: " your network, your relationships, your connections. Your network is the people you're connected with in some way and who, therefore, could open doors for you to opportunities, give you valuable insights and information, and act as allies and potential collaborators. Your network is who would return your call, reply to your email, or take a coffee meeting with you" (158).
Social Capital is how the most successful job seekers land jobs they love. Social capital is how people get opportunities to come to them. Social capital is how people get jobs at top companies. Companies fill 80% of open positions with a referral, and 65% of open positions are not posted online. People that have gotten jobs this way have built up social capital. As you begin to design your career, you need to build social capital through your friends, family, co-workers.
If you are an early career professional and just starting to build your career, I would start to build social capital in three different ways:
- Become interesting - Please don't take this the wrong way, everyone has their own unfair advantage, and I'm sure you are already interesting in your own unique way. This is more about self-awareness to understand what makes you unique and stand out. You want to understand what makes you unique to articulate this to people when you meet them. What are you passionate about, what projects are you working on outside of work?
- Serve someone or someplace - Put yourself where you get the opportunity to serve others or an organization in some capacity. A great way to build social capital is to demonstrate more value than you receive in return. This could be through your paid internship, volunteering, or your first job out of college. You need to demonstrate to people that you get things done, can build relationships with others, and that you care about who you are and where you're going.
- Focus on meeting new and interesting people - Serving others will put you in a position to meet new and interesting people, but you may also need to seek out opportunities on your own. If you have built relationships with people, they will open doors for you. Maybe your boss's friend from college is a lawyer at the firm you want to work for in law school and get you in touch.
Social capital will open doors for you that you didn't know existed. It will get you warm introductions with people who want to hire you and take the pain out of job searching.