The time is ripe to help young people find a stable place in the post-COVID-19 economy. While many workforce practitioners are focused on helping young people build skills and credentials, there is another skill that young people need as much – social capital building. The unemployment problems of youth are tied to the unemployment problems of adults. The key to finding a job for most young adults is not only what they know, or who they know; it’s who knows them and likes them. When young people are “low-connected,” they can get stuck. When young people are stuck; the country is standing still.
Helping young people build social capital could not only ease unemployment, but it can also spark young peoples’ investment in education and skills training. It makes more sense to get a credential when you know someone on the other side of the labor market who is able and willing to help you put that credential to work. Social capital building is vital to any young adult’s growth. Luckily, this can be facilitated by those who have already have it.
As a teacher, mentor, parent, or youth program staff member, your social capital is more powerful than you may think. If you have social capital — whether acquired through work, college, social media, family, and friends, etc. — you have the potential to positively change a young adult’s life forever.
Below, you will find 5 simple yet effective ways to share social capital with youth. If we were all to plant just one seed of opportunity, there’d be a forest for young adults to flourish. Let’s see what you can grow by sharing your social capital.
Five Ways to Share Social Capital with Youth
1. Embrace the 6/7/$uccess Plan
Remember the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game? Essentially, it’s based on the premise that any two people can be linked through six or fewer acquaintances. Strategically connecting a young person to key six people, and sustaining that connection over a period of time, will expose the young adult to opportunities that they may have never dreamed possible. At Social Capital Builders we recommend seven, supported interactions over a six-month period followed by monthly updates and follow-up.
2. Connect Young People with Alumni and Fraternity/Sorority Members
You are sitting on a wealth of resources that can be shared with youth. Connecting young adults with alumni or frat/sorority members can open them up to collegiate and relationship-building experiences they would otherwise not be privy to. Get hold of your college roomie or sorority sisters and see what they can offer.
3. Utilize Your Social Media Networks
With it, we’re just one click or message away from interacting with pretty much anyone, anywhere in the world. This includes potential employers, educators, and mentors.
One way of sharing your social media with young adults is by connecting them with prospective employers via direct messages (DMs) or job-hunting posts. You can also use the power of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to creatively engage with your followers to introduce youth and help them build transformative connections.
This can be in the form of youth profile posts or even contests that highlight and market young people’s personalities and skillsets. The key is to introduce your networks to young adults in a positive and engaging light, which could lead to educational or work opportunities.
4. Bring a Young Adult to a Virtual Event
Another great way to share your social capital is by bringing a young adult along to a virtual event (e.g. zoom meeting, conference call, on-line training, etc.) where they can engage in social capital building practice. Act as the young adult’s wing person and introduce them virtually to the host and make sure the young person has a follow-up plan to stay connected.
Through a real-world exercise like this, a young adult will become more comfortable and confident in making connections now and in the future.
5. Facilitate On-Line Job Shadowing
You may not personally have a career that a young person is interested in, but you probably know someone who does. Put out feelers and see what pops up within your social capital connections. On-line job shadowing offers a strategic way for students to speak to key industry players about their careers and pathways to success.
Remember that most people are open to helping others — especially young people that are trying to help themselves. Young adults just need that initial boost to get things moving, and your social capital could be the impetus for their self-sufficiency and lifelong success.
Edward DeJesus is the author of Workforce and Summer Job Success and the Founder of Social Capital Builders. He can connect with ed at https://www.linkedin.com/in/edwarddejesus/