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Investing in Social Capital

Written by: Bill Sherman on Tuesday, 22 July 2008, 7:12 AM

I’ve used Nan Lin’s definition of social capital “your ability to locate and mobilize resources within your network.” However, I want to make an important clarification.

Social capital is just like a bank account. You cannot go to a bank and make unlimited withdrawals from your account. You must first put money and invest it there. If you try to withdraw more than you have invested, the bank will tell you that you’re overdrawn on your account.

The same concept applies to social capital. If you want to leverage social capital to achieve your goals, then you must be willing to invest in others and their success. If you always come asking for favors, then your social capital will erode quickly.

Remember, while you may not get a monthly statement from a bank, you must continually make investments in social capital. And be prepared to say “thank you” often when you make a withdrawal. Never become jaded and expect that others will be obliged to help you . . . they must choose to do so.

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