I have many stories of how social capital has benefited me personally and professionally. Social capital played a role in how I met my wife, and it played a role in landing more than one of my past jobs. Now, as a speaker and consultant who does basically no advertising or prospecting, almost every speaking gig or consulting project that I get is to some degree a product of social capital. I would actually say that I would probably not have succeeded as the owner of my own business if it were not for social capital.
But enough about me. I am not an “HR leader”, but rather just a dude walking from town to town getting into adventures. But, if I was an HR leader…
I would be serious about becoming a Social Capital Jedi, and here are a few places I would start:
1.) MY INTERNAL PEERS: I would get crystal clear on the nature of the relationships that I have with my fellow organizational leaders and the relationships that they have with each other and I would begin investing heavily in building capital here…essentially building social capital for HR. I would get to know these leaders, define what their priorities are and find ways to be of value to them. Early and often.
2.) MY HR TEAM: One of my goals would be to help my entire HR team become social capital maniacs. Starting with some basic education about social capital, what it is,where it can be found, how it can be built, how it can be lost, etc. I would expect them to each build a solid network of relationships across the organization. I would eventually want them to have many different ways to collect information and to influence outcomes and priorities across the organization simply through the relationships that they have…to some degree eliminating the HR silo by weaving HR people into ever nook and cranny of the organization with positive personal relationships.
3.) EXTERNAL PEERS: I would want to make sure that I am continuing to build relationships with other HR leaders outside of the organization, outside of my geography and outside of my industry as well as consultants, authors and thought-leaders so that I have access to freshest ideas and best information for my personal use and for the benefit of my organization. (I think that you are a really good example of this Jason.)
Though I am not an HR leader and I have no desire in being an HR leader (not that there is anything wrong with it!), these are some things I would be thinking about to put social capital to work for me.
I think that beyond this type of activity there are a lot of opportunities for a more advanced practitioner or a more advanced organization to use social capital and social network analysis in efforts to:
-build and support an inclusive and innovative organizational culture
-increase employee retention
-sales and marketing
May the force be with you.