Yesterday, I received a request on my beehive yourself Facebook page. The request was spammy. It was a cut and paste job and the message started:-
“Please put 3 December in your diary!” That sounds like I am being invited to something but for what?
“We have a fantastic Winter Market for you to shop…”. Ok so it is a retail therapy thing? After reading further down the lady was pimping for stall holders.
Well, I thought, that date might be free but will customers turn up? After a few questions it turns out that she booked the large and very cold Scout Hall on a Sunday afternoon in early December. The daylight would be turning at about 2pm with sunset at 4:30pm, it would be the run up to Christmas and everyone would be stupidly busy – would anyone be bothered to come out?
It was a first time this event had taken place and it was questionable if potential customers would turn up. The stall fee was cheap, being £10, but was it worth the time and energy in the preparation, tending the stall and packing up. I concluded ‘no’ but it wasn’t just about the economics of the participation, but more to do with ‘Social Capital’.
The idea of ‘Social Capital’ was coined by Thomas Sender and it is fundamentally about social networks, that is to say relationships an individual might have between one or more people. The quality of the relationships in your network is important and it is primarily about trust. If no one trusts you, you don’t have any ‘Social Capital’ in your network, perhaps you don’t even have a network? The value of your social network could be notionally measured in terms of trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation.
So, NO, I wasn’t prepared to take the risk of either wasting my time or money for this event and this was because (figuratively speaking) she hadn’t opened a Social Capital Account with me. Did I know her? I don’t think so. Maybe if she had sent me a direct and tailed message to on my Facebook profile or tried to have a quick face to face chat with me, a Social Capital account could have been opened. I might have given her a small ‘Social Capital’ overdraft facility and maybe I would have been a stall holder at her event. A relationship of trust could have tentatively begun.
In closing, although I have made a bank account metaphor with the idea of ‘Social Capital’, I think it works more like this. I know we owe each other a favour but we stopped keeping scores long ago – so how can I help you?