By Freida Ann McNeil order 11 00 40 AM” width=”475″ height=”261″ />
Have you ever considered that gathering for a “talk” or a “chat” could add value to your business or personal plans for growth and development? When you think of networking and power collaborations do you view them as strictly within the purview of “Big Ballers and Shot Callers”? Do you ever ponder what contribution you could make to solve some of the problems you care about? If your answer to any of these questions is YES, then you’ll be interested in learning about the concept of “Social Capital” and how you can leverage your knowledge and social connections to make a significant contribution to your community and become one of its problem solvers!
What is “Social Capital”?
Investopedia defines Social Capital as an economic idea that refers to the connections between individuals and entities that can be economically valuable. Social networks that include people who trust and assist each other can be a powerful asset. These relationships between individuals and companies can lead to a state in which each thinks of the other when something needs to be done. As defined, at the heart of social capital is relationship, engagement, and trust. Examples of social capital abound. Your friend’s recommendation of you for a position that you are hired for; a reference from a neighbor that encourages someone to use your small business; or an opportunity to make a purchase at a premium rate because of the knowledge of a co-worker are all openings presented as a result of social capital.
Visionaries have used this approach to socializing (and problem solving) for centuries! Prominent political social mavens like Perle Mesta, a Washington, DC socialite during the 40s through the 60s, and RVA’s own Thomasina T. Binga, a socialite and nonprofit business adviser, were both sought after consultants due to their social connections, knowledge of “those in the know” and ability to attract them to social and business gatherings. During those mixers many financial deals were born, perfect social matches were made, and collaborations were solidified during lunch and dinner, coffee and dessert. The power of the “chat” has been a proven technique for making connects that has ignited fires in the realms of business, politics, and social engineering.
Recently, in a conference room at Urban Views Weekly, publisher Ervin Clarke introduced four groups of change makers in a comfortable and casual atmosphere which served as a birthing room of possibilities. Melvin and Pearl Shaw of Saad and Shaw, a Memphis Tn. based consulting firm focused on fundraising, business growth and development, and board development of non-profits and institutions, were introduced to Kimberley Martin, founder of the KLM Scholarship Foundation (her organization funded 33 book scholarships this year valued at $ 35,000); representatives of Girls For A Change, an RVA based non-profit focused on the inspiration and advancement of black girls and other girls of color; and met in person for the first time their clients Anthony and Sonya Ray of the HBCU Nation Radio show, the only syndicated talk show in America that exclusively promotes HBCU Excellence, Innovation and Sustainability.
With great expectancy and excitement, all present were treated to an overview of the work of the principals of Saad and Shaw, their business focus and mission and a snippet of the rich experience and advice they have offered clients as captured in their three books Prerequisites for Fundraising Success, The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts: Turning Prospects into Donors, and FUNdraising Good Times Classics, A collection of Nonprofit Advice Columns VOL. 1. Their focus on relationship, grassroots and hard work captivated those in attendance and enhanced the electric atmosphere of the gathering.
Kimberly Martin wowed those gathered with a humble and powerful description of the formation of her KLM Foundation which has distributed $184,100 in book scholarships to college students since 2002. Her description of her sponsors and supporting corporate partners dovetailed with the Shaw’s observations of successful approaches to potential funders and supporters verifying that much of the success in this sphere often relates to who you know, and who they know.
Carolyn Robinson, Treasurer of the Girls For A Change (GFAC) Board of Directors shared with the group the story of the beginnings of Girls For A Change in Richmond which was born of collaboration between Richmond’s CAMP DIVA program founder, Angela Patton, and leaders of Girls For A Change out of California. She noted that the overlap of passion, excellent outcomes and devotion to girls of color served as the foundation of a merger which has brought the headquarters of Girls For A Change to Richmond and has positioned the organization to move to the next level across the nation, focused on helping black girls reach their full potential. Robinson also commented on the recent involvement of Angela Patton and Girls For a Change in the work of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and GFAC’s recent participation in the first United State of Women Summit. She encouraged those in the room to view Patton’s TED Talk as further evidence of the potential of the organization and its alignment with current trends in national policies regarding the empowerment of Black women and girls.
Discussion of GFAC programs including Girl Action Teams, Date With Dad, and CAMP DIVA (which is currently based at Virginia Union University), segued into discussion of the Ray’s HBCU Nation Radio Show (broadcast nationally on SIRIUS XM Channel 142 –Mon-Wed-Fridays and on Saturday mornings between 9:00 am and 12:00 noon on WRVS 89.9). Anthony Ray, the Creator, Producer and Host of The HBCU Nation Radio Show discussed the power of radio. He also shared an example of the success of a social capital networking experience he had in the late ‘80s in Chattanooga, TN where the outcome of the meetings of a local Preacher, Police Chief, Politician, Philanthropist and a Program person laid the foundation for the transition of the region from an industrial base (at the time of the collapse of the steel industry) to a community with diverse commercial interests and a booming economy. Both Anthony and Sonya Ray commented with enthusiasm on the value of the support of the Shaws as they developed their radio business and noted with pride their high regard for Saad and Shaw’s regular contributions to The HBCU Nation Radio Show via popular segments focused on HBCU Philanthropy and Fundraising. Mr. Ray noted that a recent agreement with The African American Public Radio Consortium makes The HBCU Nation Radio Show, the fastest growing and one of the most highly regarded media properties in the HBCU community and all of Black radio.
As the meeting closed, Mr. Clarke encouraged all present to continue to be in contact and to focus on their connections, on supporting each other, and sharing newly gained information about those in attendance with others who might benefit from the update. He encouraged the group to continue to be aware of the potential of social capital and networks as a successful business development and management strategy, and expressed delight with the outcomes of the meeting.
A spirited exchange of e-mail addresses, telephone numbers and business cards followed Mr. Clarke’s remarks and the newly introduced groups spent time offering ideas and suggestions to each other regarding potential business opportunities and connections. All agreed to stay in touch, each group thanked Mr. Clarke for his vision and hospitality, and after taking photos to document the gathering, filed out of the room bursting with energy, anticipation and a future focus. KaChing…!