Social capital is a very important concept to understand, especially if you’re dealing with us, well, fellow humans.
The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively.”
Creating connections and relationships within your community is one of the best ways to improve your business.
But what if you’re just starting to build a network?
How do you create online social capital when thousands of other businesses and individuals operate in the same industry as yours?
While many strategies are involved, we’ll show you our favorite strategies for building social capital.
This way, you’ll be able to spend less time with your social media accounts and more time creating content or networking with people who can benefit from your business.
So let’s begin!
What Is Social Capital?
At LeadDelta, we define social capital as the sum of all the opportunities a person enjoys in formal or informal circles that grow as a direct consequence of value produced & consumed and the quality & length of a relationship.
Simply put, social capital is your personal relationship deposit box. It brings interest to well-used opportunities and grows because of the value you bring to the table. And vice versa.
Social capital is also the potential capability to gain access to resources, favors, and information through the network of personal contacts.
It is a broad concept that includes not only the number of friends you have but also how well those people know one another.
The concept of social capital was developed by sociologist Pierre Bourdieu in his work on French society.
This definition implies that having more friends means having more resources at your disposal, which is why some people refer to it as “human capital.“
Instead of looking for work online, many people get jobs through personal connections. That’s the power of social capital at work!
In the last decade or so, social capital has become more broadly defined as the value of relationships between people that can be leveraged to accomplish things together that no one could accomplish alone.
The importance of this type of relationship is often overlooked.
When we focus on the individual, we tend to think that our personal networks are not very important because we are only a single person.
But when you think about it from a network perspective, these networks can be very valuable because they enable us to accomplish much more than we could alone.
Types of Social Capital
Social capital is the sum of the actual and virtual resources that accrue to an individual or a group.
Such resources include social support, trust, information, and knowledge about opportunities and disadvantages in society.
It is not just a characteristic of a person but also a structural feature of social relations.
Social capital is composed of three building blocks: bonding, bridging, and linking capital.
1. Bonding capital refers to connections among people who know each other well (family or close friends).
2. Bridging capital refers to connections between people who have some close connection but are not very close to each other (e.g., having the same job).
3. Linking capital refers to connections between people who do not know each other directly but who share some common bond through which they may be linked indirectly (e.g., being members of the same social media group).
What Are the Benefits of Social Capital?
You’ve probably heard often, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
It’s actually what represents social capital.
For example, suppose you are a member of a sales group that is closed to new members but open to current members bringing friends.
In that case, your membership will give you access to other salespeople who can help you improve your skills, find business partners, or even just make new friends.
There are numerous benefits of having social capital, such as:
- Access to information about jobs and other opportunities
- Access to resources such as money or material goods
- Access to any kind of influence (i.e. political or business)
- Reduced costs for starting new businesses, and
- Better access to quality education
Social capital can be used as a resource for individuals or groups to help achieve their goals.
Organizations, like businesses, can benefit from higher productivity and profits when social capital is high.
Because it promotes an environment where people feel safe enough to work together and value one another.
On the other hand, having rich social capital but not using it is like you don’t have it at all.
So if you don’t use it, it doesn’t have that much value for you, right?
How To Use Social Capital on LinkedIn to Your Benefit
The internet has completely transformed social capital by facilitating an unprecedented expansion of connections between people.
Nowadays, creating and keeping your social capital with social media is much easier – especially on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn stands apart from other social media platforms because of its evident focus on the business world.
A primary function of LinkedIn is to provide a permanent record of members’ professional connections.
It’s a place where people connect daily, grow their network, look for a job, share experiences, make partnerships, and even improve their careers and businesses.
Through individual networking and group activities, it connects its users with those who share their interests as well as those who are different from them socially, geographically, and professionally.
LinkedIn users can access positive social capital via the platform through guidance, assistance, opportunities, contacts, expertise, information, ideas, emotional support, and so on.
5 Steps To Grow Your Social Capital on LinkedIn
Your ability to access social capital will increase as you cultivate and enhance these relationships with friends, colleagues, and business partners.
Participating in social activities, maintaining relationships with friends and family, going to networking events, and reconnecting with old acquaintances are all helpful methods.
So here are some steps on how to grow your social capital on LinkedIn.
1. Connect With the Right People and Nurture Relationships
The goal is to find the ideal people to connect with and ensure those influential people have something to gain from working with you.
Look at who they’re following and making connections with, and follow those people as well.
It’s also important to follow people who don’t know you.
They may interact with you or even make an introduction on your behalf.
After you connect with them, make sure to construct and cultivate a trustworthy relationship.
No matter what you do or what industry your business is in, using LinkedIn for business purposes allows you to find people within your network that can help you easily.
Pro tip: Using LeadDelta, it’s effortless to find anyone within your network by including filters. All you need to do is enter your connections and filter them by the parameter that fits you best.
If you’re looking for people in sales, just enter it within the “Job title” field, and it will automatically show you results.
It’s easy as that. You can also export this list or apply the specific tag for specific individuals within those groups of people.
2. Engage With Your Connections Daily
Engaging means more than just adding someone as a connection — it means following them and their updates so you can comment on their posts and let them know your opinion.
It also means liking what they write and sharing it with others who might find it interesting as well.
The more engagement you have with people on LinkedIn, the more likely they will want to reciprocate by engaging further with you too!
LinkedIn Events are great networking opportunities because everyone attending it is interested in the topic you have in common.
If there’s an event coming up that relates to your field, consider attending it — not just as an attendee, but as someone there representing your company too.
It can also be a great way to make an introduction when connecting with them or starting a conversation.
If you want to break the ice, you can find some inspiration within our “ 50 Proven LinkedIn Messages” and grab the message that fits your situation.
If you want to set your engagement to the next level, LeadDelta’s inbox tags and pins can help you organize your LinkedIn messages and chats with people you’re building relationships with.
Just select every important chat you need fast access to, and hit “Apply Tag”.
Once the popup displays, enter the tag appropriate to those people, and it will be easier to segment them.
Note: This way, you can segment all your connections into groups according to your needs to access them more easily, personalize your communication, and communicate easier.
For example, you can segment them according to the niche or segment your “Tribe” of people you’re communicating with a lot, etc.
Be creative, and apply it according to your needs – the possibilities are endless.
On the other hand, if you need to get back to specific conversations, pins are a great way to remind you to do that.
All you need to do is select the important conversations and hit “Pin.”
It will automatically apply, keeping your conversations on top so you don’t overlook them.
3. Share Valuable Tips & Content
LinkedIn is great for sharing articles, videos, and other resources to help your network.
It’s a powerful way to share your knowledge and expertise without writing an entire blog post yourself.
If you have access to any type of content that might be useful for others, LinkedIn makes it easy for you to share it with your connections.
By sharing relevant articles to your business, you’re showing your audience that you’re a thought leader in your industry and helping them learn something new.
You’ll also build trust with your audience by providing useful information they might not have known before.
People will appreciate you taking the time to share something valuable with them, which will make them more likely to engage with your future posts as well!
On the other hand, LinkedIn groups are a great place for sharing content that’s relevant to your industry.
It’s both educational and helps build awareness of who you are as a person and what you do professionally.
The key is to share content that provides value to your audience — not just interesting reads or fun facts — but actionable content that will actually be useful to them.
For example, if you run an eCommerce business, share articles on steps for optimizing product pages or increasing conversion rates.
4. Help Others Reach Their Goals
Helping others on LinkedIn is a great way to establish yourself as someone helpful, which can increase your authority and get help in return in the future.
This can be as simple as answering their questions or providing them with advice.
Find people with similar skills as you and offer to help them with their projects or questions about their challenges.
This will increase their respect for you, making them more likely to recommend you when opportunities arise.
It’s the concept of helping others with the potential of receiving help in return in some moment.
This is an example of how social capital can be developed through investment in your social relationships, but it can also be derived solely from a sense of belonging.
You can be aware of social capital and take steps to improve it, but the best results will come when you do so without any hopes of material gain.
Social capital might be depleted if too many favors are asked for without giving anything back. If you use social capital in less regimented ways, you are more likely to pick its fruits.
Make sure to contact the connections you’ve made by helping them and accepting support when needed.
5. Bring the People Together – Connect, Refer
When it’s up to building social capital, it’s not about creating it just so you can benefit from it.
One of the greatest ways to make your social capital more worthwhile and use the most of its potential is by connecting people within it.
An old saying about the power of networking says that you can access almost anyone with just 3 right contacts only.
It’s almost the same case here.
If there is an opportunity for someone else’s success, connect them with those who can help them achieve their goals.
Be the mediator between two parties and bring them together by being well aware of both parties’ interests.
This can be done by making direct introductions that interest both parties or by sharing their portfolio, website, contact information, or whatever information might be helpful for them.
Not only will they benefit from it, but they will also see you as a helpful person who puts effort into solving their problem and might return you a favor in the future.
Building a varied set of connections expands your chances of connecting with people who could know useful information.
And interacting with them, providing value, and helping them create goodwill between both parties strengthens your relationship.
Engaging with your LinkedIn audience is no longer a problem with the right LinkedIn tools, so choosing the one that best fits your needs is essential.
With a LeadDelta social capital manager, you’ll be more productive by viewing and organizing your network the way it suits your needs best.
It’s time to stop with overloaded inboxes, feeds, and screaming notifications and rather focus on building relationships.
Download the LeadDelta extension and improve your LinkedIn connections game.