Skills & Training
April 4, 2023

Building Social Capital AKA Your Professional Network for Jobs, References, and More!

Social Capital: Building a solid network of social connections for jobs, references, and more! Learn how to build your social capital today.

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Building a Solid Network of Social Connections

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about social capital and networking and for good reason. Whether you are new to the job market or have been active in the workforce for years, it is not surprising that having a solid network is worth its weight in gold. If you are wondering what social capital is, you are not alone. While many of us seek secure relationships throughout high school that sometimes follow us to college and beyond, we do not typically count long-time acquaintances as our social capital. But did you know that you have been building your social capital since before you even graduated from high school? How? Here is a simple example…think about that fantastic science project you completed in school and because of your hard work you earned a good grade! Your teacher more likely than not would be willing to provide you with a positive reference for any employer or college applications you need. That’s social capital at work in your favor and it's that and more. Think of social capital as networking currency that you can use when you need access to opportunities that may otherwise be difficult to obtain.

How Do I Build Social Capital?

Building social capital is just as important as ensuring that you have an effective resume. In fact, the very people you may have worked with in the past can serve as part of your social network. Family members, classmates, instructors, guidance counselors, and business owners that you know and interact with may all be considered as part of your network of social capital. One of the keys to remember when building your social capital network is to be thoughtful yet strategic in building connections that have potential to help you progress towards a desired career or life goal. Say you are interested in becoming a tech professional who writes code for organizations like Google. Some steps you could take to move the needle towards that career goal is complete relevant training that is required for coding. Build a relationship with your instructors or if completing a fully online program, search out other tech coding professionals on sites like LinkedIn. Join local clubs that explore technology, seek out internships and ask for informational interviews with managers at Google to build familiarity. Cultivating social network is done through repetition so don’t be afraid to set recurring meetings with those with whom you have not built a strong connection.

Got Any Examples of How Building Connections Helped an Upskiller?

SkillUp has witnessed great examples of people just like you, using social capital to get further in their careers. Let’s explore Twannetta Weaver’s story, one of many upskillers who connected to SkillUp during the Pandemic. Twannetta was a rising star in the hospitality industry, on track for a director position, when the Pandemic hit. While she’d been considering a career change before the Pandemic, the unprecedented circumstances placed urgency on the change. Her position was eliminated, and her career aspirations were abruptly interrupted. At this time, Twannetta learned about SkillUp. She already had a passion for marketing, but she found that without a degree, positions were hard to come by. SkillUp helped connect Twannetta to courses and training in her local area and within three months, her passion turned into two certifications. Ongoing engagement with SkillUp helped Twannetta and further shaped her path. With regular workshops, career coaching, and peer-to-peer connection, Twannetta was able to get the support she needed to complete her training and feel confident about her future.

Social Capital is Everywhere!

While it may seem daunting at first to initiate conversations to build your social capital, potential connections are everywhere. SkillUp recently launched a program with a partner organization Social Capital Builders to help our upskillers learn how to build their network and how these sessions can help them:

·        Learn how and who they need to connect with to build their own social capital that can take   their career to the next level.

·        Make connections with other job seekers who can be a source of information and support.

·        Learn about and connect to local supports that can help them remove barriers to career success.

Interested to find support to help you build your social capital? Head on over to SkillUp’s Explore page for information about career resources, 1:1 career advising,  group coaching and so much more.

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