What is social capital?
Social capital is, “The network of relationships between people, who work and live together to create a functioning society.” (Definition from Google)
But what does this actually mean? I think examples will help us understand Social capital better.
Here are some ways to increase your social capital:
- Start a youtube channel
- quality time with people
- Toast masters
- increase participating in current groups/clubs
- trust exercises
- team building activities
- being trustworthy and reliable
- serving others with no hidden agenda or ‘counting’
- solving problems together
Building social capital is more than just talking to people and it’s not only for extroverts. Social Capital is about making meaningful relationships with other people. You’re not friends with someone because of what they can do for you, but because you value them as a person and you genuinely care about their interests, worries and knowledge.
Let’s go a little bit deeper into each bullet point to better understand how we can build our social capital.
1. Start a youtube channel
This is something I’ve tried to do many times before but failed. I think I might’ve failed in the past because I didn’t have a set goal or focus in mind and because I didn’t work with other people. Being a youtuber means working with people, making sure that your content is good, meets the intended purpose and for the intended audience, and is something people would actually be interested in.
From experience, I’d say it’s easy to create a youtube account and to make the first few videos. But after the first few, without anyone viewing or commenting your videos, it can feel isolating-something that’s the opposite of what social capital is about.
So if you’re looking for a quick way to build social capital, being a youtuber is not one. You need to have patience, determination, a subject you’re passionate about, a team, and technical skills. But in terms of slowly building an audience, it’s a good one. Also keep in mind, that if you love making videos or if you have knowledge in a subject, it doesn’t hurt to make youtube videos just for the fun of it.
2. Quality time with people
This is probably the cheapest but trickiest way to build social capital. On one hand, it’s an obvious way, but on the other hand, having high quality time with others can be really challenging. Quality time does not mean eating together, watching tv, playing a game or watching a movie. Quality time tends to mean talking and not everyone likes that. For the introverts, this can be particularly difficult. But quality time, also means listening, not just talking or “waiting for your turn to speak”.
The reason why I say “Quality time TENDS to mean talking”, is because everyone’s idea of quality time is different. For me, I love playing games with my friends. Maybe I don’t get to know about their boyfriend, or a laptop that they recently bought, but I can laugh with them, share jokes and make memories that are meaningful to me. The best times in my childhood was when I played games with my friends.
3. Toast Masters
From what I know of Toast Masters, it’s not available everywhere and it’s not free either. However, for the people who have time and can afford this, I think it’s worth it. I haven’t attended this myself but it looks trustworthy, like somewhere to go to build on public speaking and confidence skills.
4. Increase participation in current groups/clubs
This is something I have to work on in the group that I’m in which is the RICE internship. I need to pick my work off the floor and carry it on my shoulders. I believe that people notice hard workers. But I wouldn’t participate more to be noticed or acknowledged. I want to work hard because I’m passionate about what I believe in and because I don’t want to let my team down.
5. Mathex group
Most of the bullet points (See above) can be under the same heading. I’ve named the heading Mathex group because Mathex is when you’re in groups and you need to work together for a common goal. Social capital is all about building trust in relationships with people. It is about working as a team and using all of your different strengths and knowledge together, to create something you couldn’t have created on your own and solve problems together.
6. Serving others with no hidden agenda or ‘counting’
My sister is very bad at this. She would do something nice for me and then later on, ask me to do something for her. If I don’t want to do it, she reminds me of what she did for me. It makes me feel ungrateful and resentful towards her. So a word of advice, if you’re going to be nice to someone, do it with a cheerful heart and out of love. Don’t count your good deeds. Good relationship is about doing things for each other spontaneously, not because we owe each other anything.
I hope that these six ways of building social capital has helped you to understand what social capital is and how we can build this in our lives.
When I write my post about why we need social capital, I’ll post it right, ‘here’.
But for now, good bye and let’s get social capital building!