The last time Funke saw Peju was at their convocation. Funke had always been the Brainiac, the one who sits in the front row, gets all the As and leads group presentations. She wore these rather interesting glasses that made guys flock around her in awe of her brilliance and beauty.
It wasn’t a surprise she got a job with one of the leading finance firms immediately after school as a graduate intern before moving to the big four for her NYSC. She later pivoted to one of the big 3 after she switching from financial advisory to management consulting, all in the space of three years.
Peju on the other hand was the socialite. She wasn’t exactly bad academically; she was just quite people-focused and as expected, she deliberately connected with the highfliers in her class and Funke was part of them.
Unlike Funke, Peju had it slightly difficult. From working with an audit firm to a contract sales role with another FMCG, it seemed luck wasn’t exactly on her side. She however kept in touch with her colleagues, attended the reunion that happened before COVID-19 and kept on telling her friends about how had found a new interest in Consulting.
Few months later, Funke’s place of work had some exclusive role for an executive management consulting program and of course, guess who she called first?
In Africa, when you hear capital, money comes to mind first before knowledge or people. However we are in the 21st century and people are important to accessing opportunities.
One of the most recurring questions I have been asked is, how do I connect with people? How do I make friends? How do I build my social capital? Maybe a good place to start is to let you know that value is the currency of any relationship.
People love to connect with value, and when you demonstrate value, people connect with you. Another pivotal point is that, to network, you just have to be interested and be interesting. Simple. You have to be interested in the person (or set of people) you are trying to connect with and you have to be an interesting person.
Now, you might be reading this and be wondering if you are an interesting person, you might even think that you are an introvert and nobody would want to connect with you. Dead that thought! You are probably one of the most interesting persons ever, you haven’t just explored yourself yet. Do you have doubts? Well, let’s clear them. Can you talk about any topic for more than two minutes? Football? Tennis? Sports? Climate change? Feminism? Then you are an interesting person.
One of the best books you can read on building your social capital and networking is “How to Make Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie and one of my favourite quotes in the book is “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Simply put, be interested in people. Below are a few tips on how to compound your social capital.
1. Give and Exchange Value
Remember where we talked about cycling your value and leveraging a platform? Your network expands as you give value. As ants clog around sugar so do people clog around a person of value. Whether you are an introvert, extrovert or ambivert, people are often attracted to someone who is knowledgeable. As a matter of fact, I have met a lot of virtual celebrities who are introverts, core introverts, but this doesn’t take away the their ability to share great content and deliberately connect with an existing audience.
2. Support people openly
According to John Maslow, everyone wants to be loved, recognised and appreciated, thus one of the greatest ways to connect with great people (either bonding or bridging capital) is to support them openly. Like their posts on different platforms, repost their content, leave a thoughtful comment, give a recommendation. Do not hoard compliments and do not think compliments are for the known celebrities. Support your friend who is an entrepreneur, and the other one who has a side hustle, do this consistently and watch your name get etched in the heart of people.
3. Give out your capital
One of the most amazing things to do is to connect people. Connecting people with people is one reliable way to compound your social capital. The exciting thing about doing the latter is, the two people that get connected through you would never forget that you connected them. Either you love to keep to yourself, you enjoy your personal space or not, connecting people with people always compounds your capital.
4. Create/ Participate in a Community
I was going to say create a community, but I have realised that a lot of times, being an active participant of a community also increases your capital bank. You might start by doing an audit of the communities you belong to as well as your contribution towards these communities. In my experience, I have discovered that it is better to be in a community where I am active that be in a lot of communities where I am not active. Whether you are a community creator or just a participant, being an active member of any community expands your capital.
5. Be Receptive and Authentic
Once, when I heard people say fake life, I would wonder what it meant, until I had an experience with one or two people. There is nothing more attractive than being authentic. Whether you are James Brown, Bobrisky, Enioluwaofficial or Taymesan, people love to connect with people that are deliberate.
You should also love to meet people; there is an exciting feeling that emanates from knowing people, having them in your circle or space, and watching them evolve into the amazing stars that everyone longs to connect with.
6. Gifts/ Act of Services
This is one you can never go wrong with. Teju Babyface* always shares the story of a fan who came to attend a conference where he was speaking and gave him a gift while he was coming out of the guest room. While everyone hustled for his contact, he voluntarily exchanged his contact.
Gifts always open great doors and they do not have to be grand. A customised bag, a face-cap, a book, a novel, a free ticket to watch a blockbuster and just about anything could be the key to the next person you want to meet.
Like every other life investment, building a social capital is a long term game with worthy dividends that trickles in multiples.