A Social Capital Builder's Message to Networkers. Networking is Not Working
Networking is your thing. You drop business cards faster than Beyoncé drops hits. Your network is huge: 15K Instagram followers, 14.3K on Twitter, and your Snapchat is on the upswing. What? You're busting out on Tik Tok too. Let's go!
You’ve about covered practically every Gary Vaynerchuk podcast, and you’re working the Art of Charm like a cheap suit. Welcome, my friend — you are now a networking ninja. Your skills are strong!
Hold on… wait a minute.
Are you frustrated about why you have so many followers and still looking for a job? After all, you have more followers and get more likes than all your friends combined. From an initial glance your MMA looks strong, but the power of your punch can’t move a feather. Don’t worry grasshopper, we got you!
Sorry to burst your bubble but if you are networking, you’re not working. You are spending so much time connecting with others that you’re experiencing what economists call diminishing returns. Yes, networking is expanding your reach, increasing your familiarity with a specific audience; on the other hand, you are incurring costs for all the time you spend clicking, friending and poking, and it is limiting your potential to social capital build and that can have a harmful impact on your future success.
It’s called opportunity costs — the cost of doing something better. Let’s say you are promoting your brand on social media and investing 30 hours a week on all platforms. At the same time, your friend Brad is out there making connections and building social capital. For each hour you are on social media, Brad is in the community connecting.
The opportunity cost of one hour of social media is the potential benefit of one hour invested in building social capital. So, which one will have a greater payoff?
Before we answer that, let’s define social capital. Social capital is the asset value of your connections with people, institutions and organizations (and we hope it’s positive, although there is a debate as to whether there is such a thing as a negative asset), whereas a network is just your connections. Your 1.5K subscribers are your network; they are not your social capital.
While a social media presence can help you develop social capital — you can become a valued member of the network due to your consistency, sharing and publication of helpful content — there is no guarantee or mandate for reciprocation. In social capital building, there is.
With Social Capital Building, you are making a one-on-one connection with someone. That personal connection greatly increases the chances that when a job opening or other opportunity pops up, that person will think of you and offer you a chance. And that one connection can offer many doors of opportunity via their own circle of friends, relatives, co-workers, etc. Having a network of thousands might seem like a nice look, but when it comes to offering something of substance, it’s definitely lacking. The effort you place into building one of your 1.5K followers, for example, is high and outweighs the benefits.
Your network is just a predictor and a horrible one at that. For example, the more people in your hookup network, the more likely you are to come out with a disease. Your social capital is an outcome, one characterized by reciprocal values of trust and goodwill. The more social capital you possess, the more health, happiness and, you know, moola you will see.
So, how can you effectively develop social capital? By building a social capital hub.
Instead of running all over social media like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to grab as many followers as possible, hubs allow you to quickly and efficiently jump social space and connect with those who can offer you exactly what you need. All it takes is six key people known as connects.
To best visualize this, think of social capital hubs as a group of airports. Connects are like airports in that they allow you to link with opportunities and people within your connects’ circles, just like an airport transports you to various places all over the world. With the right six connects, you can have access to virtually anyone on the planet. No joke!
Surprisingly, you most likely already know people who can get you that good job or offer a life-changing experience. The key is cultivating a hub of six connects that will take you to the next level. With this strategy, you can bypass all the wasted effort involved with continuously networking and build powerful social capital on day one. (I’ve devised a surefire way called the Six/Seven/$uccess plan, which you can check out in my book Making Connections Work.)
If you want to see real change, stop investing all your time in useless pursuits, and build your social capital hub. I say this over and over again — social capital truly is the gift that keeps on giving. Embrace it, and you will be singing its praises too.