Social Capital Management for Aspiring PMs

PM Center Insider

By Emad Rahim, Kotouc Endowed Chair of PM Center of Excellence

Emad RahimDr. Emad Rahim, PMP®, OMCP®, serves as the Endowed Chair of the Project Management Center of Excellence and Associate Professor for the College of Science and Technology at Bellevue University. He has earned fellowships at Fulbright, Beyster Institute, Kauffman Foundation and the Jack Welch Management Institute, and has been invited to serve as a Visiting Scholar at Rutgers University, Oklahoma State University and Syracuse University.  He co-authored Foundations of Social Responsibility and Its Application to Change, Leading Through Diversity: Transforming Managers Into Effective Leaders, and The 4-Tions: Your Guide to Developing Successful Job Search Strategies. Emad has also contributed columns for Forbes, CEO Magazine, IntelligentHQ and, and has been featured in the Huffington Post, US News & World Report and NY Post.

Connect with him on Twitter @DrEmadRahim

Project managers are nothing without a fine-tune team and a rolodex of social capital that is committed to your project success. Who are you going to call when you need project resources, solutions for complex problems, expert advice, and additional workforce or when you are dealing with a crises that no one of your team knows how to handle it?

“Social capital” means fame, goodwill, reputation or recognition you have amassed because of your work, achievements, professional network or social activism.

Traditionally, social capital meant goodwill a project manager – or any individual, for that matter – has gathered from various segments of professional networks and society. But in the Internet age, social capital also includes goodwill and reputation a project manager garners from social media, or more generally, from every digital platform.

If you are an aspiring project manager, here are 10 easy yet effective ways to build social capital before embarking on your project management career.

  1. Have Not One, But Several Social Media Pages

To build social capital, you need to be social. We are not talking about just saying ‘hello’ here and there, vanishing for a few weeks, and then coming back when you feel like it.

You should formulate an effective social media strategy in which you open – and maintain – pages on more than one platform.

At a minimum, you must have a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter…and Pinterest if you have time.

  1. Engage Your Friends and Followers

Once you open the pages, maintain them. Post relevant content, information that improves people’s lives, entertains them or educates them.

If friends and followers see you posting value-adding information, you could boost your social capital over time, strengthening your moral authority over them.

The idea is to provide good information consistently, so people can see you as a trusted of education and information they can rely on.

  1. Follow What Is Going on in Your Area and Industry

Educating others is good, but educating yourself is better. Familiarize yourself with your niche, your industry or whatever interests you.

Learn as much as you can, read and find out the key trends that are shaping your industry. That kind of research will pay off exponentially later on when you embark on your business career, because you would know exactly what works, what does not, and what rivals are doing.

  1. Cultivate the Company of Prominent People

Don’t waste your time with the wrong people – online and offline. ‘Show me your friends, and I will tell you who you are,’ says the axiom.

The idea here is to amass social goodwill by forming solid ties with prominent personalities in your niche.

That way, you can indirectly benefit from their social capital whenever they mention your name or refer you to their friends and business contacts. Don’t reinvent the wheel; just copy what the best are doing, and you could be on your way to business stardom, too.

  1. Surround Yourself With Other Project Managers

Surround yourself with other project managers if you want to simultaneously gather social capital and boost your business aspirations.

 The good thing is, when you hang out with other similarly minded people, their expertise and talent spread on you, thus expanding your own knowledge. You, too, share your inner potential with them, thus completing the virtuous circle you can use one day to advance your respective businesses.

The idea of crowdsourcing is similar, although it applies to a large group of people – a crowd, that is.

  1. Convince Others You Are the Best – or One of Them

You can quickly garner social goodwill if you consistently produce top-quality content, share good ideas with followers, and are seen as a rising star because you work with prominent people.

To convince others you are the best – or one of the best – you need to work, work and work. No talk – just work. Prove your excellence through hard work, and before you know it, others will give you the accolades you need and want.

  1. Do Good Offline

Doing good is excellent online – but so it is offline. Doing good is good for your karma, which is not a bad thing when it comes to social capital.

Accumulated much goodwill through volunteering and charitable activism can also translate into online recognition, because the people and organizations you helped also have an online presence – and they would be more than happy to return the favor you initially granted them.

  1. Establish Thought Leadership

Establish thought leadership by writing a book, giving a speech, penning several blog articles or mentoring others.

All these activities serve to set  you up as an expert in whatever field you choose, as long as it fits nicely with your future business aspirations.

Remember that people generally ascribe expertise and intellectual authority to someone who writes a book or delivers a comprehensive speech or presentation on a topic – and does so not just once, but several times.

  1. Think About Project Management, Too

As an aspiring project manager, you are probably thinking about business growth and the ROI of your project success only. That is okay, but don’t forget socially conscious projects that you can support.

This world also needs smart, competent and poised people who want to improve the lives of millions through social activism.

Earlier, we said you can build social capital by doing some good offline. Here we are saying you could actually take the path of social project management altogether, building an organization – nonprofit or business – focused on social welfare. I volunteer on several nonprofit and community projects every year. This helps me stay connected, grounded and expand my network outside of the workplace.

  1. Let Others Shine

Humility is the gateway to stardom, so let others shine whenever you can. As much as possible, mention others in your social posts, blog articles and other messages.

Shedding light on other people’s work will benefit you, not only in terms of social goodwill, but also in terms of personal connections you could use offline to jumpstart your business.

Final Word

As an aspiring project manager, you should cultivate your relationships offline and online, at all times, and wherever possible. Always provide relevant and value-added content, and your peers and followers gradually will elevate your status in the industry. This also rings true for established project managers that are seeking to grow their social capital.

Last but not least, don’t forget also to put the limelight on others – they will return the favor in due course.

  1. […] managers are nothing without a fine-tune team and a rolodex of social capital that is committed to your project success. Who are you going to call when you need project […]


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