Once you realize that your networking builds value in your life, the nature reaction is, “How much value do I have?”
Certainly, this is not as simple as counting nickels and dimes or tallying hours worked. And while there are complicated formulas for assessing one’s social capital, there are three rather simplistic means of gaining a thumbnail measurement of your social capital … assessing connectivity … density … or potential. Let’s touch on each of these.
Assessment #1 is Connectivity. Answer this question “Who do I know?” Stop and think about it. Take an inventory of the people you know. High School. College. Neighbors. Community contacts. Church. The gym. And the list goes on and on. You likely know lots of people, and as you meet more your social capital grows.
Assessment #2 is Density. Think about it. If you knew ten people and those ten people all knew each other, your network is so dense (or interconnected) that the social capital is nowhere near as great as if you knew ten people and none of those people knew each other. So it is not just how many people you know that is important, but how many of those people know each other. Certainly, it is not reasonable to think that no one in your network knows anyone else, but you do want to have a broad, diverse network where you know lots of people and they are relatively disconnected from one another.
Assessment #3 is Potential. It is important how many people you know. And it is important how many of those people you know, know each other. But another means of assessing your network is to look through the people you know and see the people they know that you do not currently know. If you know ten people and they have relatively poor networks themselves, you are worse off than if you know only five people, but those five are extremely well connected.
Take a moment now and then to assess the value of your network. In these moments, ask yourself:
- How can I increase my Connectivity;
- How can I lessen my network Density; and
- How can I enhance the Potential of my network