Nearly everyone at some point in their job hunt has heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” As a young professional just a few months away from college graduation, I hear this at least once a week. I’m constantly reminded of how important networking is in today’s job market. In her recent PR Strategist article, Sadhana Pasricha, founder of Social Capital Consultants, reminds us how important this is even when you’re the CEO.
Investing in Social Capital
Social capital isn’t exactly networking, but that is a part of it. The Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University defines social capital as the collective value of all social networks (and no, they don’t mean Facebook), and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other. Social capital encompasses two basic ideas: it’s who people know and the norms of reciprocity.
Pasricha states that CEOs are not known for investing in social capital initially. In fact, organizational leaders are traditionally known to focus mostly on human and financial capital as the means to success. However, ensuring trust and relationships within your organization, and externally, are just as, if not more, important. Mutual trust between employees, leaders, and clients creates a significant advantage for firms.
However, Pasricha believes that PR professionals already have leverage in this field. PR professionals are trained in maintaining networks, strong communication skills, and reputation-building expertise. These capabilities can help PR professionals access their social networks and build social capital by developing an invaluable reputation to their clients and organizations.
Online vs. Offline Social Networks
What Pasricha is referring to in her article is offline social networks, the symbiotic professional relationships that are built through earned trust and experience. However, online social networks and social media can contribute to or take away from these offline networks depending on how they are used. Social media can create stronger networks within the organization, and externally, by serving as interdepartmental bridges or highlighting positive success stories. It is about engaging the online community and creating value within the organization that is visible online.
Pasricha closes by saying that demand for talented leaders who can “connect multiple stakeholders and manage appropriate investments in community engagement, relationships, and trust” is on the rise. PR professionals can take a front seat at the corporate table by helping their organizations realize the importance of social capital and maximize its opportunities.
It’s no longer just who you know, it’s being invaluable to them as well.