Social Credit: The Value of Great Connections

The following opinion editorial was written by Owen Matthews, Chairman of Alacrity Canada

Many years ago, I was with my friend who raises money for charities.

Raising money for charities is interesting. You are asking for money but giving nothing material in return. The exchange of money is for greater good, so the donor may feel great about what they are doing. However, there is a lot of trust and relationship building required to create confidence that the money for greater good exchange is real and a sensible investment. So for him to do his job well, relationships are everything. It can be the most difficult sale in the world. “Give me your money and you’ll feel good about it.”

We were having a conversation about the importance of bringing goodwill to people, and of being involved in the community and developing connections, and how important that is for his business (and in fact all businesses).

I introduced him to a concept of mine called social credit. I won’t imply it is novel or somehow an important discovery of mine, it is just a simple tool I use to help guide me on building relationships and helping people. Over a decade later, my friend was recently referring to it as a concept that has helped him ever since we discussed it. That has prompted me to share it a little wider, with you, here.

In the simplest terms, think of social credit in terms of tokens, you only have so many.

You might invest one by asking to meet or introduce someone. When that person gains from your effort, you get the token back, and maybe a few extra. If you introduce a problem to the person, or waste their time, it could cost you a token, and maybe a few more depending on how bad the problem is or how influential the person is.

When you take the time to introduce somebody, ask a favour or even invite someone to a party, you are lending your credibility to whatever you are encouraging someone to do. If you are taking somebody’s time by asking them to meet people and they become really good friends, or highly beneficial partners, or great employees, etc, then you’re contributing value to that person’s life and you’ve done them a great favour. Up go your tokens. Even though you’ve asked them to spend their time with someone, they’ll end up looking kindly on you for introducing them to great people. If you then turn around and ask them to meet someone else, they are more than likely to invest that time again.

The great connectors of the world are looked upon very favourably, because they bring great value. Recognizing who should be trusted and who will likely get along is a powerful skill.

I describe making valuable connections as accumulating social credit. Any time I’m considering introducing people, I really take the time to consider a few things:

  • What do they have the potential to gain from this introduction? (financially, spiritually, emotionally, etc)
  • Are they likely to get along?
  • Are they likely to do business together?

When I provide (quality) introductions I am creating social credit for myself, and I am generating value for friends/family/colleagues. As a result it’s more than likely the people I have connected will be open to future introductions, and when I see an opportunity for a sale, or some type of relationship, people generally are open to meeting with me and offering additional context on the situation (letting me “cash in” some of my social credit).

Accumulating social credit has a community effect, you can generally be looked upon favourably. But of course all that can be lost quickly if I introduce a person to someone who steals money from them, or turns into a horribly negative cultural element in their company, or into an otherwise negative presence in their lives. If they find the introduction I provided to result in a negative experience, then they are of course less likely to be open to me again introducing people or even new ideas into their lives.

I like to think that the value of your time and energy is not just what you do, but also who you bring to the table. Being a good judge of personalities who will compliment each other goes a long way to developing business, relationships, and your general success.

The more you contribute in the way of social credit, the better off you do, and it’s quite a virtuous circle. The challenge is when you don’t take the time to think about who you’re introducing, or to get to know that person before introducing them, it can really cost you. It can cost you badly. Of course you can’t always tell how someone or something will turn out, but you definitely have to pay consideration, because you are lending credibility to that person when introducing them, and it’s very important to protect that.

The notion of social credit is that you can accumulate social credit as quickly as you bring good people into other people’s lives, but you can also lose it really quickly by asking people to meet with people that turn into negative contributors in their lives.

Something I commonly see is people being hesitant to bother others with an introduction. You might think “this is an important person and I don’t want to chew up their valuable time by suggesting they meet with somebody”. You inherently think that you’re using up social credit to make such an introduction, but at the same time, if the people you are bringing to the table are really great, beneficial, and right on the mark with this “important” person, then you’re not upsetting them at all or wasting their time at all by asking them to connect with somebody – in fact you’re doing them a huge favour.

“You can’t hesitate to connect people who may be important to you, you should be very open to it, but make sure you’re doing it with their best interests at heart, and that you legitimately feel you’re connecting two people who will gain a lot from each other.”

I find no matter who I’m dealing with, if I’m introducing people and I’m doing it in a thoughtful way, then I’m really helping people, strengthening my relationships, and contributing greatly.

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