On Thursday night I attended a networking function with about 100 other people sponsored by the Michigan Business School Alumni Club of Chicago. It was an interactive session led by Michigan B-school Professor Wayne Baker who preaches the virtues of social capital. According to him: “human capital is important to any organization, especially in this age of knowledge management — but social capital can be even more important. With the right networks, the whole world is within your reach. The old saying “It’s not just what you know, but who you know” isn’t a cynical commentary. It’s a well-established principle, supported by twenty years of scientific research.”
To harvest the benefits of social capital, Professor Baker had attendees practice the Reciprocity Ring™. Basically each person is asked to write down something (one personal and one business related) they would like to get help with, then participants share with the rest of the group. Main goal is for those within the ring to listen intently and focus on contributing to others without regard as to whether or not help will come your way. I know this is nothing earth shattering, there are similar programs out there like Networlding, but it was amazing to see how in a group of 24 people, people were volunteering to leverage their connections to help not just with business matters, but with a whole host of personal matters.
After the event which was held at the W Hotel (on Adams Street) which I might say was hopping for happy hour, I worked the room. As much as I complain about feeling lonely, it was nice to see quite a few friendly faces; many of whom I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t gotten involved with the Alumni Club. I then left as I wanted to get home for a very important phone call. He from “his written words” had sent an email indicating he would be calling at a certain time. We once again chatted for 2+ hours about any and everything. I don’t know where this is going, but I sure like the ride so far. I had such a glow and was in such a great mood that I experienced one of my most peaceful nights of rest.
Btw, I’m curious as to what others are using to manage their personal contacts. I currently use my palm pilot to keep track of addresses and phone numbers, but it’s not enough. Even though I have them written down, I keep forgetting birthdays and anniversaries for family and friends. I know there are websites like Birthday Alarm that I could sign up for, but looking for a more integrated package. Looking for software that would allow me to make notes against each contact and get reminders about birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Also something I could have on home pc as well as palm. I know I could use something like ACT! but having used it for work, I’m not too excited about it. It requires way too much customization. I have no time for that. Thus, I welcome any suggestions. The more people I meet, realizing that it really makes sense to use something like this (with my failing memory) to help manage my personal relationships.