Just think about the number of people you have communed with over the span of your career(s). It actually started on the playground when we were young. It’s funny I watched my daughter one day go up to some kids on a playground and say “Hi my name is Erica would you like to play.” I saw two things: She was allowing strangers into her personal space and she showed the character of a leader. She didn’t say can I play with you -the follower route, but inviting them to play with her said “follow me”. Our friendships in high school and college create lifelong relationships that extend as we explore our career path. Our playground folly evolves into networking; collecting a box full of business cards to pick from at a later date to become a bridge to solve a future problem. We now enter the realm of social capital, which research shows translates into financial capital. In The Founder’s Dilemmas, Noah Wasserman relates “…building connections with potential employees, customers, advisors, and investors…” to a “deep reservoir of resources” that gave one founder a huge advantage for his start-up. (47) This advantage converts friends and colleagues into sustainable investments. The best deals are not made in board rooms, but instead on the golf course, at dinner, or over a drink (i.e. informal settings). Business is not just business, but it is personal. These informal settings are less stressful and more engaging instead of combative and overall just a relaxed good time.
I think back to when I was in banking and the relationships that were formed at our social events carry their weight in gold. Even though I am in academia now, I can still reconnect with this sector of social capital for support. Wikipedia defines social capital as “…a form of economic and cultural capital in which social networks are central, transactions are marked by reciprocity, trust, and cooperation…. Social capital has been used to explain the improved performance of diverse groups, the growth of entrepreneurial firms, superior managerial performance, enhanced supply chain relations, the value derived from strategic alliances, and the evolution of communities.” When I see evolution of communities, I think isn’t that what business and industry do; make bigger, better and faster products and services. Human and social capital is at the heart of progress with reciprocal exchanges.
The Saguaro Seminar, Harvard Kennedy School states, “The central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. Social capital refers to the collective value of all “social networks” [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other [“norms of reciprocity”].” Relationships are based on honesty, loyalty and trust. These same values turn a handshake into and inked deal. I agree with Wasserman in the quote above when he made the statement based upon age and experience of the entrepreneur. The people we meet and relationships we make along the way will prove to be a valuable resource when we step out into our place of entrepreneurship.
Putnam, D. Robert. Harvard Kennedy School,The Saguaro Seminar Civil Engagement in America (1997-2000). About Social Capital. Retrieved from https://www.hks.harvard.edu/programs/saguaro/about-social-capital
Social Capital. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved September 11, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_capital.
Wasserman, Noam. (2012) The Founder’s Dilemmas. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.