Just how important is social capital, anyways?
It can be a simple, unconscious experience: you slow down your vehicle to provide space for a car entering the freeway. It could have an enormous impact on your world: you’ve always wanted to write a novel and you just found out your best friend’s sister-in-law is an editor with a large publisher. The world would be a vastly different place without the foundation of relationships in our lives.
Turning your social capital into social income is another story all together. The Flowork system of social capital development centers around the KAU method:
K = Knowledge of self, goals and network
A = Gaining access to social resources
U = Ability to utilize the resources to accomplish goals
The more comfortable we become in approaching individuals in our network, the more likely we are to accomplish our goals. If we don’t feel comfortable asking people for help, it is incredibly important to seek methods of overcoming this discomfort. Goal accomplishment will otherwise be much more difficult.
More importantly, it is essential that we set goals not just once, but on a regular basis. The ability to set goals is an underutilized skill set that requires a lifetime of development.
Finally, we need to become more aware of who is in our network. If we have a goal, we need to first consider who on our contact list might provide help. If you are unable to come up with a name, consider next who might be most likely to know someone who can help us. If we want to develop and increase our levels of social income, we need to be knowledgeable about how we feel and what we know about our network.
Once we become more familiar with our network we need to determine how we are going to access the social resources that will help us accomplish our goals. We can accomplish this through volunteering, joining associations or simply attending a friend’s party. The resource becomes more and more difficult to access the further away we are from the source. For example, a first-degree contact is easier to connect with then a friend of a friend (second degree). If we become more strategic about how we connect and start to develop connection strategies, we increase our access to resources that can help us accomplish our goals.
After we have gained access to the individual who possesses the resource, we must to think about how we could utilize it to accomplish our goal. This probably represents the most difficult step in the networking process. Many people believe that connecting with someone represents the biggest challenge, but it is, in fact, more difficult to get someone to actually help us accomplish our goal.
We go through a subconscious process when connecting with others. Understanding the process, breaking it down and determining where we’re having challenges is the key to utilizing the social resources in our lives. If we are to be successful, we must bring this process of getting someone to help us in our network to a conscious level.
The KAU method seems fairly straightforward, but like anything, it takes practice and a heightened awareness of the process. Flowork has recently developed some online training modules that provide an opportunity for individuals to become more cognizant about their social capital and their ability to turn it into social income. We encourage you to get in contact with us to access these modules.
Whether you’re a practitioner or someone who is looking for a job, the better you get at increasing your social capital the easier it will be to accomplish your goals.