Do you want to learn how to build social capital? If you do, then you are in the right place.
This article has been written to serve as your ultimate guide to everything social capital.
This means that you will learn everything you need to know about social capital from this article.
So, ensure you read it to the end to get everything that will be shared.
What Does Social Capital Mean – How to Build Social Capital
Our first stop in this guide is to give a comprehensive description of what social capital is.
This is important because if you do not know what this term means, there’s no way you will be able to build it.
You have to properly understand the concept and its intricacies before you start applying the steps and tips to build it.
So, what then is social capital?
Social capital as a concept has existed for a long time now; however, what it means has changed over time.
Before now, social capital as a concept means how a set of people unite with each other, build trust and work together.
However, today, this term is known to cover more than this one concept.
Social capital now also means how one brand interacts with its audience, as well as, other brands too.
Simply put, social capital can be said to be the value an organization or individual gains by being a part of a social network.
It centers on a person’s or organization’s ability to use their social connections to improve productivity, solve problems, achieve common goals, and generally just work together.
When it comes to social capital, your relationship with people/other brands is a form of currency on its own.
The higher your social capital is, the more goals you can reach both as a company and as an individual.
A perfect example of using your social capital is closing a deal because another business associate put in a good word for you.
This is what makes social capital very important because, it helps you achieve things that you otherwise would not have achieved, or that may have taken you a long time to achieve.
How Did the Social Capital Concept Originate – How to Build Social Capital
Perhaps, a brief history lesson will help you get a clearer understanding of what social capital is all about.
So, let’s take a quick detour to understand the origin of this concept.
Three individuals can be said to have developed social capital to what it is today.
They are Pierre Bourdieu, James Coleman, and Robert Putnam.
Let’s take a quick look at them and their contributions to this concept.
In 1985, Pierre Bourdieu became the first person to theorize social capital.
He did this while trying to analyze why the upper classes retained their social statuses.
He was convinced that it went beyond their economic capital; that something else was responsible for keeping people in the upper class and also keeping people in the lower class.
And that was when he came up with the theory that social capital or the lack thereof, prevented people from moving from one social status to the other.
Soon after Pierre Bourdieu came up with his theory, James Coleman – a sociologist – also wrote about this concept.
In his writings, he categorized social capital among other important resources such as tools, money, and skills.
He maintained that social capital is just as resourceful and important as physical (tools), economic (money), and human (skills) capitals.
Robert Putnam is generally credited with modern-day social capital.
In 1995, Robert Putnam wrote an article with the title “Bowling Alone: America’s declining social capital”.
This article made Robert Putnam nationally acclaimed.
In his article and book (with the same title), Robert Putnam spoke about how some behavioral changes in America were causing social bonds to disintegrate.
According to him, the decline in social capital was also causing damage to economic development.
To him, when social capital is more or higher, there will be more power to create a healthier, happier, and safer society.
How Social Capital Can Help Your Organization Function Properly – How to Build Social Capital
Robert Putnam’s analysis of the concept of social capital illustrates how this concept can be beneficial to organizations.
When a company has a higher social capital, it has a higher chance of growing faster.
But why is that?
What role does social capital play in how well a company functions? Well, let’s explain that.
When the social capital level is low in an organization, it means that the relationship between people within the organization is weak.
Because of this, they will find it hard to work with each other.
There will be poor communication, completing projects at the right time will be difficult (if not impossible), and productivity will typically be low.
But in a situation where the people working together have stronger ties, everything will work the way it ought to.
Collaboration will be easier, each person will value and trust the other, and because of the social bond they share, people will find it easier to discuss their problems and share ideas.
Productivity will flourish in this kind of environment.
The same thing goes for creativity and innovation.
Social capital typically makes an organization function better because of the basic elements of this concept.
These include interpersonal relationships, shared values, shared understanding, collaboration, social trust, reciprocity, feeling of belonging, communication, respect, empathy, and goodwill.
Why Should You Build Social Capital in Your Company – How to Build Social Capital
Social capital creates an environment that boosts productivity and creativity.
But these are things that an organization can get even if they have low social capital.
Why then should you devout your effort and time to build social capital within your organization?
Well, there are so many other reasons why social capital is important to a company.
Here are some of them:
- Reduces conflicts at work
- Boost employees’ morale by making them feel supported and cared for
- Could prevent burnout
- Makes it easier to manage work-related stress
- Improves employee engagement
- Fosters teamwork and collaboration
Advantages of Social Capital for Companies – How to Build Social Capital
Social capital is important to a company and can help it function better because of the many benefits it offers.
Let’s take a look at some of these benefits below.
Helps A Company Reach Its Goals Faster
Every company has certain goals that they need to reach to grow the business.
And a high level of social capital can help a company attain its goals a whole lot faster.
Because members of the workforce will have great relationships with each other, it will be easier for them to collaborate.
Collaboration makes it possible for members of the workforce to work as one mind and get things done more effectively and in record time.
If one person encounters a challenge when working on something, another person will be willing to help them overcome the challenge.
Everybody will also be committed to playing their part because they know it is essential to make sure everything goes on smoothly.
The entire workforce will be working towards the same goal and this will make them reach it faster because there is always strength in number.
Prevents the Growth of Information Silos
When an employee withholds information from other employees, then an information silo might grow.
An information silo simply refers to a situation where information is not shared with other members of the staff.
And this is more likely to happen if the members of the workforce do not interact with each other.
At the end of the day, an information silo can result in unwanted and unnecessary barriers that will impede the workflow.
But a company with high social capital won’t experience this issue because communication is as frequent and clear as possible.
Hence, information won’t be withheld and the employees will carry out their duties effectively and efficiently.
Helps to Save Time
Remember, high social capital fosters collaboration.
And when people collaborate, they tend to work as one mind.
This means that they won’t spend too much time on unnecessary arguments.
Every hand will typically be on deck to get things done in record time.
Everybody will be committed to making their contribution to the overall success of the project they are working on.
And these contributions will be acknowledged and appreciated.
Because of this, everything will work seamlessly and as fast as possible.
Tips on How to Build Social Capital
Now that you know how beneficial high social capital can be for your company, it’s time you find out how to build yours to a desirable level.
Building social capital within your company simply means ensuring people in your company maintain great relationships that will enable them to work well with each other.
This is exactly what you’ll be doing when you do the following tips.
1. Boost Collaboration by Giving Employees Certain Responsibilities
By now, you should know that collaboration is an integral aspect of social capital.
While it is an offshoot of this concept, it can also be used to cultivate it.
This means that by cultivating collaboration, you can also encourage high social capital.
So, how do you boost collaboration?
Well, one of the best ways to go about this is to assign different tasks and responsibilities to different members of the workforce.
These responsibilities should relate to each other so that your employees will have to work together in other to complete a task.
There are many ways to do this.
For example, you can ask your marketing team lead to get feedback about the new marketing campaign from the head of finance.
Of course, the marketing team doesn’t necessarily need the approval of the finance department to decide on their campaign.
But doing this may help foster a better relationship between both teams.
And you will also be teaching both teams the importance of feedback.
You can also encourage collaboration by setting up “brainstorming meetings”.
During these meetings, employees are meant to work together and conceive new ideas.
Pair different departments to work on a project together.
Doing all of these will help foster relationships between people that originally won’t have any business together.
2. Team Building – How to Build Social Capital
Team building is another main element of social capital.
It involves enabling employees to interact with themselves outside the formal environment.
Again, there are several ways to go about this.
You can hold workshops once every three months where team members can come together to strategize, play fun games that aids team-building, and generally socialize with each other.
Or, you could foster relationships between departments by holding weekly virtual meetings comprising different departments.
Before starting a meeting, consider asking some light personal questions that will make people share some simple details about their lives outside the office.
For example, “what fun activity did you engage in this weekend?”.
Someone might tell you about their father’s birthday party or their daughter’s high school graduation, or simply just about how they walked their dog to the park.
This way, you have set the foundational block to building a relationship with your employees and them among themselves.
You can even encourage your employees to socialize outside work.
For instance, they could organize after-work outings where they get to discuss things that are not work-related and generally have a good time.
3. Align Values – How to Build Social Capital
Shared values are yet another important part of social capital.
If an employee’s values do not match that of the company, they will have a hard time blending in with the rest of the workforce.
They may find it nearly impossible to build work relationships because their values do not match that of the team or company.
The good news is that you can align the values of your employees with that of the team/company.
Start by asking your employees about their values.
You could do this through a survey or in a meeting.
Find out what they think of the company’s values.
Let them tell you which of these values they resonate with the most.
They should also tell you the beneficial values they think are missing in the company.
Finally, ensure you find out their work values.
Analyze the results you get from your inquiry.
If a particular value keeps popping up under the beneficial values the company is missing, then it might mean you need to add that value to your company.
Also, think of ways to align your employees’ values with the existing values of the company.
4. Encourage Open Communication
Communication is also key when it comes to social capital.
So, it should be encouraged from the top to the bottom.
This means that communication should be frequent and clear between all members of the workforce regardless of position.
Those in superior positions should make themselves accessible so that those under them can easily reach out to them when they need to.
5. Build a Strong and Positive Workplace Culture
Social capital cannot excel in a toxic environment.
For instance, if workplace bullying is the order of the day in your organization, there is no way the bully victim will have a good relationship with the person bullying them.
The same thing goes for other unhealthy workplace cultures like unnecessary arguments, conflicts, unhealthy competition, and so on.
So, to build social capital, work on eliminating any toxic culture in your company.
Build a strong and positive culture that will foster better relationships between your employees.
Tips on How to Build Social Capital Outside Your Company
Remember that social capital also covers your relationship with other brands and even your customers.
How do people on the outside see your company?
Does your company have a good relationship with its customers?
What about your vendors and other people that you do business with one way or the other?
If the answer to these questions is no, don’t start fretting.
You can also build your company’s social capital outside it, the same way you can build it within the company.
The following tips will help you do this.
Call Your Clients
If you recently worked with a client on a project, don’t just let the relationship go stale once the project is over.
Call them and find out how much they liked the outcome of the project.
Make them know that it was nice doing business with them.
Let them know that you are always ready to help and they should not hesitate to reach out to you if ever the need arises.
However, don’t ask them for referrals yet.
Ensure you build a relationship with them first and best believe that if they are ever in the position to refer your company, they won’t miss the chance.
Keep in Touch with Those Who Have Sent Business Your Way
If someone referred your business to someone or put in a good word for you somewhere, ensure you reach out to them to show your gratitude.
Find out what’s going on with them.
Make them know that you are ever ready to return the favor.
And if you ever have the chance to send business their way too, do not think twice about doing so.
When you send out adverts about your business to people, do not just stop there.
Try to follow up on the leads.
Assuming the person is someone you have done business with before, call them and remind them of your services.
Also, talk to them about referring your business to others.
For prospective clients, try to make them see why they should do business with you.
When sending emails to them, ensure you personalize them.
This way, you will make them feel special and important; if they ever need the service you offer, they will reach out to you.
Partner with Other Brands
Your business can do better when you collaborate with other brands.
The brands you partner with in this sense should be your substitute competitors.
This means the business does not offer the same products/services as your business, but they cater to the same target audience as your business.
You can build social capital with this type of brand and then help each other grow by sending business to each other.
Conclusion on How to Build Social Capital
Successful companies often do not joke with social capital.
High social capital will help your company in so many ways by ensuring everything runs as smoothly as it should.
Now that you know how to build social capital, nothing should hold you back from going ahead to work on building it.