What is social capital? Described within Dictionary.com social capital is “the network of social connections that exist between people, and their shared values and norms of behavior, which enable and encourage mutually advantageous social cooperation.” Simply stated, social capital means developing and maintaining relationships that bring value. The HBA is a fantastic place to begin relationships that can be based on friendship, business or both. In order for you to have either or both there is one word that is the key to achieving your goal; trust. Trust is not something that is handed over immediately and has to be earned. Trust turns an acquaintance into a meaningful relationship. You’re probably thinking “I know this already but how do I go about building trust?” It starts with your efforts at a general membership meeting and how you present yourself but is developed by working on key issues that the HBA and its active volunteers are working towards satisfactory outcomes. We discussed in the previous post the structure and purpose of committees and how those committees have different roads that bring us to the same place; a healthy building industry. It is here, at the committee level, that your relationship building begins.
Joining a committee, regardless of the initiatives of that particular committee, brings you into a working group. Within this working group you may be a volunteer but understand how you interact will decide how you develop relationships. Showing up on the day of the meeting and sitting there in that meeting place is one thing. People will now see you outside the general membership meeting but when you take an active role they will get to know you. The association business first, your business second mentality will demonstrate your level of passion for the HBA. Like minded associates and builders will see you as a person who is part of “the family” and not just someone who is there for a quick deal. The benefit of sharing your knowledge and skill set is twofold:
- You are building trust with other associates who will become comfortable with introducing you to others who can help you with your business at the appropriate time and….
- Demonstrate to builders that you care about their businesses by caring about the health and advancement of the building industry.
What you are doing, whether you know it or not, is auditioning. You are revealing to others just how professional you are and what type(s) of talent you possess. The best part is you are doing all of this as a volunteer. The thought is if you are this professional as a volunteer how much better could you be if you were getting compensated by handling business deals. It will take time, meaning patience, consistency and quality of participation, but your time spent as a volunteer will add to your overall return in your HBA investment.
There is a warning attached to all of this and I will share that warning with you through an actual quote from a builder member; “If you don’t ‘handle’ the builder with professionalism, all the time you’ve invested in the builders’ association has been wasted.” What does this mean? Everything you have done to develop that relationship will not be maintained if you can not perform your job when your time comes. The HBA can deliver to you all types of educational courses that can help you be a better professional but it takes desire to be a professional to truly advance. Know your potential customer’s business and its needs and prepare. This is not just limited to builder business. You may be an associate that has a product or service that works with both builder and associate members businesses. It’s the same thought process as the quote from the builder shouts out; you started as a professional, continue as a professional.
The committee level, which can be committee, council, task force or any working group, coupled with 24/7 professionalism, is the ideal place to develop and maintain your social capital.
I urge you to reread this post, and the previous three, whenever you can. The advice in these first four posts should hopefully reconfirm what you already know or help maximize your HBA experience. Regardless, like any book or audio recordings based on self improvement, you have to constantly replay the material in your mind and actually apply the material in real life situations. You can’t exercise one day and to expect to be in great health forever.
We talked about the number one purpose of the HBA and that is advocacy. Next week’s post will be about the benefits you receive from advocacy and what you can do to maximize your HBA involvement through advocacy efforts.
Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chair
Director of Trade Association Relations, ProBuild