City Connection

When Doing What You’ve Always Done Is No Longer Enough

Human vs. Social Capital

Do you know the difference between human capital and social capital? Both are important for career advancement, but often because of the demands of our jobs, we focus on one more than the other.

Human capital refers to your skills, education and experience. While our own personal human capital is important, we often over-rely on it for career advancement and success. We fight as one-person armies, reluctant or too busy to engage others in our battles. Social capital, on the other hand, refers to the resources available through your network. This includes information, ideas, leads, business opportunities, financial capital, power and influence, emotional support, goodwill, trust and cooperation.

Your Networking Perspective

Taking a networking perspective can help inform a range of issues. From communication, to collaboration, to knowledge sharing and beyond, building your focus from a social capital perspective can benefit your career. Let’s think about innovation. From a human capital perspective, you tend to look to yourself when thinking of building out a new idea. This is often called the “great man” or “great woman” theory of innovation; thinking that innovation happens when one really smart person sets to work on his/her own, building and advancing a theory that changes the world.

In reality, innovation more often comes from working with a diverse network of individuals who bring multiple experience, educational backgrounds, social backgrounds and the like to the table. This makes the degree to which you engage others in problem-solving and generating new ideas to access leading-edge thinking, and the degree to which you are aware of your colleagues’ skills sets, in a way that enables you to reach out for the relevant expertise when executing a new idea, critical to your success.

Different Types of Networks

To truly take full advantage of the benefits of social capital, it becomes important to diagnosis all of the networks that make up your network. Knowing who is in your task network, your career network and your social network is key. Being able to identify your strong ties and weak ties is also important. And knowing how to build both competency-based trust and benevolence-based trust among those members of your network is imperative. In the UC Davis Executive Education Program, Maximizing your Mentoring and Developmental Network, we’ll explore all of this and more.

In the end, we need to make friends so that we have friends when we need friends. This takes planning and attention, two things that are often in short supply in our busy work lives. But by investing in these plans now, you’ll have them when you need them, and I’m excited to help you start this journey.

Interesting in learning more?

I’ll be leading half-day sessions to explore these ideas more deeply at our Bay Area and Davis campuses. We’ll spend the morning diagnosing your current network, building strategies to enhance it, and coaching you through common challenges individuals have when developing and maintaining an effective network of mentoring relationships.