Breakthrough by Building Social Capital

“If you want more influence in your organizations, relationships will help you get there,” according to the authors of Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships (Talent Anarchy Productions, 2012).

Consultant, speaker and author Jason Lauritsen and speaker, corporate trainer and author Joe Gerstandt describe “social gravity” as the invisible combination of forces at work in our relationships with others. The book explains that the most common ways people build relationships center on proximity and activity: People get to know one another when they frequent the same places and do things together.

Work is a prime example. For HR professionals, who are so often focused on being service providers to employees, taking the time to develop business partner and strategic-level relationships is critical, the authors write. HR practitioners with a lot of social capital don’t go to work alone; they roll into work with a posse. As a result, when they face an issue or need a sample policy, they’ve got a team of people outside the organization to turn to for help.

The book outlines six laws of social gravity that, when harnessed effectively, can make it easier for information, ideas and opportunity to find you:

Be open to connections. Be available to have lunch or coffee, or agree to work on a special project. Social technologies such as LinkedIn can help people organize their connections.

Get involved in meaningful activity. Because physical proximity is one way people build relationships, Lauritsen and Gerstandt suggest that HR professionals look for ways to participate in activities such as employer-sponsored affinity groups, wellness programs and book groups.

Always be authentic. People have a tendency to hide things at work, especially the stuff that makes them unique. “You want to be normal, but you are not,” the authors write. “You are unique. … Stop trying so hard to be normal. … Fly your freak flag. Authenticity is rooted in self-awareness. You have to know who you are.”

Stay in touch. “Relationships don’t grow by themselves,” the authors write. “They require tending.” The book encourages HR professionals to make a plan to follow up with connections regularly in ways that are appropriate and meaningful to the other person.

Use karma to your advantage. Find ways to help people solve problems. “If you do good, good comes back to you,” the authors contend.

Invest in connecting. Budget time to connect with people. “Invest in relationships and make them matter,” Lauritsen and Gerstandt say.

Even though who you know matters, the authors advise readers to build and develop their social networks in a thoughtful way and to not get hung up trying to amass an army of “followers” and “friends.” 
“Social capital is about quality, not quantity,” they write.


Originally posted on the SHRM Book Blog.



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