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If social networks are information superhighways, social capital is the resulting value of these connections based on the relationships between senders and receivers — the degree of trust, friendship, shared experiences and “give-and-give” that surface over time, says Zara Larsen, founder and president of The Larsen Group, a consulting firm dedicated to helping others unleash their potential through transformational change.
Social capital produces influence and speed, not just movement of data. Like the connection between mentors and protégés, social capital doesn’t involve payment, yet is worth its weight in proverbial gold over time. Mastering social capital is particularly critical for people who lead change. This applies to the reverse mortgage industry, whether you’re a solo loan officer or part of a larger HECM enterprise.
In one sense, social capital sounds a lot like Management 101 combined with Introduction to Psychology — or Robert Fulghum’s classic, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. In essence, it’s about how we can learn to “play well with others”. The components of social capital include:
- Bonding. How do you build trust with your reverse mortgage prospects and clients? With your colleagues? With potential collaborators and referral resources in aligned fields? Among the members of the communities you serve?
- Bridging. How can you connect people across and through their differences to enable sharing? What strategies will melt perceived barriers to such communication?
- Scaling. How can you enhance bonding so that it becomes a Lego-like tool for building larger communities and networks that support senior issues involving health, housing and finances?
Reciprocity is key, says Larsen. Not in the usual sense of, “I give you something and then you give me something back.” She defines reciprocity as, “Give, give give,” knowing that at some future point it will effect social movement and return to you as social capital when you need it.
Our recent post, How to Be A Top Resolver suggests a number of ways reverse mortgage professionals can connect more deeply with clients, colleagues and staff members in order to build social capital. The more you meet others from a caring heart, the greater your social wealth. And that, of course, leads to other kinds of wealth, for seniors and for those who serve them.