Getting Serious About Social Capital: Your Health and Wealth Depend On It

If you want to increase your chances of both personal and professional success, commit to growing and nurturing your social capital. Let’s take a look at the increasing evidence that proves how a having a solid network of relationships can improve your wealth, health, and happiness.

You’ll find better opportunities  Based on recent study by Jobvite:

  • 36% of employees found their current job through a referral from a personal or professional contact. So not surprisingly, 50% of hiring companies plan to invest more in social recruiting, and 36% will spend less on traditional job boards.
  • 48% of those with more than 150 connections on LinkedIn (termed “Super Social” job seekers), had contact with a recruiter, compared to only 11% of normal job seekers.

You’ll progress more quickly in your career

  • Over the years, many studies have confirmed the positive relationship between network size and career mobility. In his classic “Structural Holes versus Network Closure as Social Capital,” Ronald Burt found that managers with larger networks and many casual “weak” ties across diverse groups, were promoted more quickly and received larger bonuses than individuals with smaller, closed networks. There are several reasons why this makes sense: as “strong” ties are close relations by definition, these people tend to be quite similar to you and most information you receive will be old news. On the other hand, “weak” ties, where individuals do not necessarily have knowledge of or access to the same people, will be more likely to transmit novel ideas, news, and opportunities.
  • Employers are looking for more than just technical skills, as Richard Florida writes in “Where the Skills Are”: “Highly developed social skills … including persuasion, social perceptiveness, the capacity to bring the right people together on a project, the ability to help develop other people, and a keen sense of empathy…are quintessential leadership skills needed to innovate, mobilize resources, build effective organizations, and launch new firms. They are highly complementary to analytic skills…and indeed, the very highest-paying jobs usually require exceptional skill in both realms.”

You’ll close more deals 

  • The best salespeople spend no more than 10% of their time prospecting. This is because their network provides a constant source of referrals that keep them busy, and they are free to focus on vital areas such as qualifying and planning.
  • Did you know that only 2% of sales occur at a first meeting, while 80% close only after at least five follow-ups? The thing is, 44% of sales people give up after the first no! Top sales people make a long-term commitment to building trust because they have a relational, not transactional, mindset. In fact, the best negotiators spend 40% of their prep time finding shared interests with the other party.

You’ll live a longer, healthier life

  • Sheldon Cohen at Carnegie Mellon University exposed hundreds of healthy volunteers to the common cold virus, then quarantined them. This study showed that people with more social connections and more diverse social networks, (with friends from a variety of social contexts, such as work, sports teams and church), were less likely to develop a cold than the more socially isolated study participants.
  • A team of neuroscientists led by Jérôme Sallet and Matthew Rushworth of the University of Oxford in England, revealed a clear, linear relationship between the size of a monkey’s social network and an increase of neocortical gray matter in regions involved with social cognition. Monkeys that lived in the most socially complex group had an average increase of 20% more neocortical growth than monkeys housed individually.

Those with abundant social capital, lead an abundant life. Mingly helps you get and stay connected, so you can unlock all sorts of new opportunities for yourself, and your friends and family.

Dana Byerlee is a corporate strategist and relational marketing expert to both Fortune 500s and startups. She has worked with Ferrazzi Greenlight, and is passionate about leveraging new technology to break down barriers and build deeper connections. @LADLynn

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