The 5 Types of Social Capitalists

“Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I’m not there, I go to work. ~Robert Orben
Is it possible to work smarter rather than just working harder? Are there ways to increase the odds of you or your company’s success without a substantial monetary investment? I’ve personally found that building your network is the most effective way for reducing risk and improving your odds of success. Among the people I’ve spoken with who have had large successes, their network always appeared to be extremely important. These individuals also tend to make their success seem effortless. So who are the types of people that value their relationships highly? In this article I break down five types of social capitalists from across the spectrum. While there are many more, I thought these five were most common.

What Is A Social Capitalist?

Before diving in to the five types of social capitalists, let me first define what I mean by a “social capitalist”. A social capitalist is a person who invests in building their network of relationships and consistently improving their communication skills because they believe that social capital is the most important factor to an organization or individual’s success. While the execution of business tasks is always important, building a valuable network is at the core of any successful organization or individual.

1. The Bricklayer

Bricklayers are hard workers. Just think about it for a second. A hot summer day and the bricklayer gets to work early in the morning and does nothing but throw mortar on bricks and stack them, while making sure everything is consistently level. It’s a very basic skill but it requires a strong work ethic. If you don’t do things properly the wall can fall down or it just ends up looking like crap.

The only problem with the bricklayer is that they only thing they can do is build walls. Walls are an extremely valuable thing but there are numerous other things that go in to building advanced structures. In social media, the bricklayer is good at doing one thing and doing it consistently. Programming is one example of something that can feel like laying bricks sometimes.

While advanced development requires creativity, setting up 100 WordPress installations for clients can become a fairly repetitive process. While the metaphor doesn’t translate perfectly, bricklayers work extremely hard but if you’re looking for the next big shot web entrepreneur, don’t look to the people in this group. The bricklayers may be extremely good at what they do but they don’t do much besides laying bricks.

While some of the bricklayers may network for their career, they’d much rather relax with friends and take a break after a hard day of laying bricks! Social capital for this group is used to keep a good job, not to build empires.

2. The Hustler

This is my favorite group. If you don’t know what a hustler is, the urban dictionary defines a hustler as “someone who knows how to get money from others. selling drugs,rolling dice,pimpin. your hustlin for that money.” The hustler has the work ethic of a brick layer but has the creativity and intelligence to do just about anything. The primary thing preventing this group from advancing is over-thinking things.

Rather than planning, this group needs to always be executing. What’s great about this group is that they’re actually out there making things happen (and making money). Rather than writing about “How To Make $1 Million” they are actually doing it. In addition to helping businesses grow, the hustler is out making connections to build a broad network of individuals that can help further the aims of both parties.

If your goal is to make money and to build social capital, you should study the work ethic and business strategies of hustlers.

3. The Pundit

Pundits are intelligent and like to show off their intelligence. Regularly speaking at conferences and quoted in large publications, pundits have tons of social capital. In the social media space, pundits are bloggers that break news and provide their own analysis on industry topics. While some pundits are actively building their own media companies, most pundits don’t make a living from sharing their thoughts.

Most make a living from their consulting but are best known for their personalities. One things pundits are masters of is building social capital. While their personal consulting businesses may or may not be booming, their social capital could be used to build empires if they decided to launch large organizations. Unfortunately it’s much easier to sit on the sidelines and call the game as it happens than to hop in ring.

As I’ve written numerous times on this site, taking actions necessary to become a pundit can be priceless in regards to acquiring social capital. However if you want to shoot for the stars, leverage the social capital acquired through blogging and other self-promotion activities to build things of greater value.

4. The Socialite

The socialite is always at any event where the influencers are. The socialite lives to network. Networking is literally their job. While they may not be actively producing products or services, socialites leverage their vast network of influencers to help others build things. You’ll often find socialites that work in the communications industry. Rather than churning out press releases, these people will simply call up their friends at large publications and ask for an article.

If social capital had a monetary equivalent, the socialites would be billionaires. Often times the socialites are flush with cash through their previous life as a hustler (entrepreneur, executive, etc). Other socialites are just getting by as marketers but investing a large portion of their time meeting influencers. As the saying goes, “your network is your net worth” so these individuals have a lot of value, despite their consistent focus on socializing over running businesses.

5. The Party-goer

Everybody likes a good party but some people really make a job out of it. This is probably not a group you want to be in. While the socialites are networking for success, the party-goer tends to network their way to events just for the free beverages. While free drinks (and other free things) are always a great benefit of being a social capitalist, most party-goers focus more on the fun than on the execution of professional tasks.

Don’t get me wrong. The party-goers can convert into successful business owners thanks to their vast network of influential contacts. The only problem is that the party-goers are so good at partying that they never have time to execute. When the hustlers are spending 14 hours a day building something, the party goers are taking 4 to 6 of those hours to go have fun.

There’s nothing wrong with using this model since everything is ultimately a lifestyle choice but if you’re aim is to build valuable social capital, you may want to take advantage of it once you’ve acquired a lot.

Who Else Is There?

What other types of social capitalists are there? Do you think the term “social capitalist” as a way to define someone who invests in building relationships and improving their communication skills is an effective one?