The FavorPals platform is has amazing potential to help people maximize their assets and to connect.
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San Francisco, CA (Vocus) November 10, 2010
Every year in October a group of social entrepreneurs, nonprofits, foundations, and venture capitalists (just to name a few) come together to discuss and look at the intersection of money and meaning. They call this conference SOCAP, an acronym that stands for Social Capital. For most of us who do not live in this sphere and speak in coded language such as Social Capital, (not to mention BoP, MFI, SME, and Socent) its confusing to see why this a gathering matters to us; however, the underlying concept of Social Capital is something that affects everyone of us.
Okay, so what is Social Capital? Loosely defined, it a concept that refers to the connections within and between social networks.
Still confused? Let me put it this way, every connection you have, be it to your neighbor, your dentist, your clients, your family, your connections to your friends’ friends, or even to your enemies has value. Just as hammer (physical capital) or an education (human capital) can help you in a task and increase your productivity, so too can your social contacts assist you in a task or increase your productivity. Here is a well-known example just for clarity:
You are moving and need a truck and people to help you haul your stuff from one place to another. Your options are (1) to rent a truck and some labor, which costs you money or (2) think of whom you know who has a truck and might help you move your stuff. Most of us have been in this situation and have called on friends for assistance, often repaying them through our own skills, for example baking them cookies as a thank you, having them over your new place to watch a game and drink some beers on you, helping them with some task they need, or the idea that when they need something from you, you’ll be there for them. This is not just bartering it’s social capital.
Now, what if you don’t have a friend with a truck, are you forced into option one? Not if you have a platform where you can trade your capital (i.e. physical, human, or social) to someone who is in a similar position. If you understand your own capital, what you can trade (be it connections, your skills, or an unused tool), you can use that to barter or trade for what you need.
FavorPals and SOCAP are similar in the sense that they play on this concept of social capital by giving people a platform to exchange. If you are a young entrepreneur looking for a partner who has web design background and is interested in promoting clean water, you’re still like the person looking for a truck, either you know someone or you don’t. But does that mean you’re stuck with option one? Not if you know how to leverage your own capital through platforms like SOCAP or FavorPals by mentioning what you have to offer (i.e. equity in your company for example) for what you need (in this case a partner).
“The FavorPals platform is has amazing potential to help people maximize their assets and to connect.” said Erin Hersey, a SOCAP participant and social entrepreneur. “It has helped me not only think about what I need, but what I can offer to a potential partner. Essentially, bartering your capital is the essence of networking.”
Notice we have talked about capital all without mentioning it strictly as money? In a recession period where money is tight, we need to get creative with our solutions and start thinking about how we can leverage our capital to get what we need, and both SOCAP and FavorPals offer us a means of doing that. Next time your looking for a partner, someone to paint your house, a dentist, or even a massage, try posting to FavorPals to see with whom you might exchange.
So how can you begin to garner some social capital right away? Do your networks a favor and share this information about SOCAP and FavorPals with them, they might be so happy that they will repay you with some cookies, or better yet, a hand when you need it.