How to Boost Your Social Capital

As Ryan White, CEO of HuntForce, wrote in his post on Facebook, “Straight Shot has changed my life”, I came back to Minneapolis with a similar feeling, reflecting on wins and losses from the 90-day startup accelerator and reading an intriguing book: Social Gravity.

During the 90 days, we were honored to interact with many mentors, over 200 of them, and learn from their mistakes and advice. One of the mentors was Jason Lauritsen, CEO of Talent Anarchy. He gave a really interesting talk on the importance of investing in social capital. After his talk, he presented the founders with his book, Social Gravity, and suprisingly the book spoke to me profoundly and made me realize, even more, that social skills matter in any area of life and sometimes is our key to success.

Social Gravity

The book is not long; it’s clear and to the point but it provides an incredibly valuable understanding of networking in the digital age. The six law of social may be self evident, but we often ignore them or put them on auto-pilot. Relationship-building has always been important but we need to learn how to build relationships with people and their entire network.

In a nutshell, the author shares six laws of social gravity that if you apply them in your life you'll have a higher probability of creating social capital, and thus accomplishing your goals. Here they are:

  1. Investing in connecting
  2. Be opened to connections
  3. Be authentic
  4. Get involved in a meaningful activity
  5. Use Karma as a turbo-charger
  6. Stay in touch

I’m not going to talk about each one of them but the book adresses many issues and unveils myths that we often hear in the workplace or in our circle of friends. Things like “Oh she only got that promotion because she knew the boss” or “He got $10 million pre-money evaluation because he’s dating the VC’s daughter” are very common and most of the time we make wrong assumptions because we underestimate the power of social capital (or because we have a defensive mechanism). The book is brilliant in pointing out the human nature in us — stereotypes, cognitive bias, attribution errors — that often prevents us from growing and helps us create an awareness of the issues that work against building social capital.

In my opinion, the biggest takeaway is that social capital is not something we pursue, just like happiness, is an outcome of an activity or attitudes. Don't be like a sales person (exceptions excluded) whose solely interest in networking is to be able to sell something to an individual. This cosmetic approach may work at times but it's not a sustainable approach. Think about it. Most people nowadays are extremely busy, specially investors, so attempt to create an overlap between you and the person you’re trying to connect with, and make sure to be authentic in your approach. Tracy Britt, Warren Buffet's assistance and one of our mentors during Straight Shot, said something in her talk to us that really stuck with me. "In order for you to connect with someone, you need to find that common (overlap) thing between you and the person, otherwise, building a connection with the person you're interested in may take years." And she went on explaining how she failed at that many times. She said one time she always wanted to connect with this well-known businessman, but she had always failed at cultivating the relationship, and one night to her surprise at a dinner, her fiance at the time, and now her husband, Scott Cool, was able to start a conversation with this man by simply sharing something they both had in common: they both played tennis. Her husband was able to connect with this man the first time they met by simply starting a conversation with something they both had in common.

That’s the gist of what the book is about but I strongly recommend reading it. I, on the other hand, have a lot of work to do to build my social capital. The good thing? It’s never too late!

(If you were ever part of any accelerator feel free to share your experiences building social capital and how it affected your business in the comments below.)

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