Life Advice

How to Build Social Capital on Your Job Hunt

Joel Bein
September 2020

What is social capital?

Social capital is the good will you have with a person. How do you build it? A few examples:

👉 Give a smile and a simple handshake
👉 Get interested and create good conversation
👉 Buy lunch
👉 Be reliable and respond to emails quickly
👉 Write a blog post about why you love a company

No matter how you create social capital, you’ll want to do it from a genuine place. If you are phony or you secretly despise doing a favor, the other party will smell that. No one wins!

On the other hand, if you give from a place of authenticity (i.e. you truly love a company and can’t wait to share your blog post with the CEO), you create a win-win. You come alive in your creativity and the other person feels seen and valued. With good will created, you have social currency in your “bank account,” which can open up opportunities down the line. Win-win.

How can you create social capital to land a job?

Start with why

Before choosing a company, start with your why. Again, what excites you and makes you come alive? Figure out what burning problem you want to solve, and figure out what business is seeking to solve it. Then, start building capital with team members of that company.

Sure, you might not find your One True Calling with your first role. But asking yourself essential questions about your career intentions will point your compass in the right direction.

Pick the Low-Hanging Fruit

So you’ve learned about the company. Now soak up any blogs, podcasts, or social posts. Then do little things to create capital:
👉 Share and comment on their posts
👉 Send them an email or DM about how their podcast helped you
👉 Start learning and sharing your own work that complements the mission of that company. Tag the company thanking them for inspiration.

Dive Deeper

Once you’ve picked the low-hanging fruit and learned the basics about the company, how can you go deeper to show your enthusiasm and forward tilt? If you want to pitch the company, then prove you’ve gone above and beyond. Dig deeper.

For a marketing role, for instance, you can go on sites like Ahrefs, Pingdom, Buzzsumo to learn about website performance and SEO. (Brian Nuckols shows how he did this in pitching Praxis). For a customer success role, read every Google or Capterra review and note the pain points of customers.

Dig for detailed data about the company. You’ll then build more social capital because you ask specific questions to a team member:

Connect with team members

With a little “savings” in your social account, make a soft ask. (Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab Jab Jab, Right Hook teaches this balance well.)

Send a tailored email that share why you love what they’re up to. And, ask for a 15 minute call with a list of specific questions that show you’re super curious to learn more about that team member’s role. Prove you’ve done prep work and are thinking from the perspective of the company. The more interesting and thought out your questions, the more social capital you build. In other words, even though you’re making an ask, you’re also keeping the balance “in the green” because you have great questions. 🙂

Once you’re on the call, be personable and of course genuine. Be on time, and thank them for their time. And afterwards, send a handwritten thank you note!

Create a Project

If you’ve gained knowledge on a company, go build a project like these for a company for more social capital. And, you could make a pitch with a strong value proposition. It’s not “required” (nothing’s required, life is a game). You could simply say “hey, I made this for you! Feel free to use it if it’s valuable. Would love to do like this if you want!”

This act of shipping free work will put social points in your bucket. If the exact project isn’t needed for the company, then you are still signally what type of person you are.

And if you go full out and pitch the company on a job, you’ve already done the job before you have the job! Huge win to show you just may be the indispensable person they need.

Make it happen!

Social capital is about giving and getting! It’s a win-win.

What will you create today?