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bi-monthly checkins are now day-to-day likes.

When I meet someone at an event, conference, or trade show I try to find them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram afterward, then connect with them on all four channels. The Facebook/Instagram invite might sound crazy to some, but they are the most important for one simple reason, social capital and the “like” economy.

Social Capital

Social capital has many definitions; the most relevant may be by Pierre Bourdieu in “The forms of capital”. He focuses on the advantages to possessors of social capital and defines it as a “deliberate construction of sociability for the purpose of creating this resource.”

Social capital can be used as a mechanism for the generational reproduction of inequality or even as a method of progress for a status climber. The wealthy and powerful using “the old boys network” or other social capital to maintain advantages for themselves, their social class, and their children is a well known example of the former.

Have you ever heard of someone “breaking into a scene”? They have worked hard to bank enough social capital within a group to be seen as an equal. It’s a soft skill you develop on the playground as a child and are continually developing as you progress through academia and into the professional world. However, the methods people use to bank social capital are changing, largely due to social networks.

The Like Economy

First off, there is absolutely no substitute for meeting someone in person, and that will never change. It’s very, very hard to build trust with someone if they haven’t seen you in the flesh.

However, once that in-person meeting is established, social networks are a much better incubator for strengthening the connection. Every like or comment you give a new connection is banking social capital. For one, it shows you care enough about them to engage with them in their day to day life. Secondly, it forces that person to think about you, your connection to them, and what you do for a fleeting moment, in that moment you are top of mind.

Last week, a professional connection of mine sent me a link to an article written in the economist about the business card. The day before I had “liked” something he had posted on Facebook.

In the article was a piece that resonated with me:

“The rapid advance of both globalisation and virtualisation means that thistrust-building process is becoming ever more demanding. Managers have to work harder at establishing trust with people”

If you’re in sales this should mean something to you. Go connect with your top prospects on social channels and become their friends, like content that you genuinely like, and engage with them in the comments. This is a great way to build trust with them, and it puts you above 80% of sales people that don’t. If you’re “too old” to have Instagram or think Facebook is not for business then you’re going to get crushed by the new generation of sales men/women. Your existing social capital is not in threat, however, your ability to court new capital in a competitive space will be much more difficult.

We’re working on an update to Zap to help facilitate this process.

Soon when you exchange a Zap business card with someone, we will automatically send out requests to connect on social channels you and your new contact are both active on. If the request lingers, we’ll remind you over time.

This is part of an endless iteration cycle we’re on to create 10 times the value over the tradition paper business card.

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