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The Luck of the Irish…or is it?

social capital

St. Patrick’s Day got me thinking about the Irish and what makes them so lovable. Is it their fun and easy-going nature? Their lively music and inviting hospitality? Maybe it’s the way they make others feel like family? While there are many facets to the Irish culture, it’s safe to say that these characteristics don’t hurt their friendly reputation.

If you think about it, the Irish are experts at building social capital. They know how to build trust and rapport with others. As a cultural norm, the Irish make people feel special and cared for, which lays the foundation for creating strong and impactful relationships.

Think this ability is just the luck of the Irish? It’s not! You don’t need a four-leaf clover to have the same impact on your professional and personal relationships. The Irish’s reputation is not luck at all, it’s culture, and you can build this culture within yourself. Here’s how:

  1. Always Make People Feel Welcome.
    Something that comes second nature to the Irish is making others feel like family. Locals take the time to ask others how they’re doing, they help each other out without expecting anything in return and they take outsiders under their wing and make them feel like Ireland is their home, too. All of these acts are also great ways to build social capital. Start by being approachable and engaging, be honest and show up when others really need you, and be loyal – have their back even when they’re not around. Doing so demonstrates that you care and are willing to go the extra mile for others. This builds trust that is like money in the bank. Soon enough, you’ll see that behavior reciprocated, creating a strong foundation for long-term social capital.

  2. Stay in touch with others.
    The Irish community is a pretty tight-knit group of people. Because of its small-town likeness, everyone makes an effort to keep in touch and checks in on how others in the community are doing. This helps create strong relationships within the community.

    You don’t have to be local to borrow this trait. There’s nothing like getting an unexpected call from an old friend who wants to check in and see how you’re doing. It makes you feel important and cared for, which is exactly why it’s a great way to build social capital.

    Wondering where to start? Reach out to former colleagues, clients, mentors and other professionals in your industry and let them know you appreciate them and are thinking about them. This will make a positive impression and lead to more opportunities for you. Whether it’s extending a congratulations for a job promotion, forwarding a newspaper clipping or simply checking in to say hello, these small gestures have an exponential positive impact.

  3. Be persistent.
    The country of Ireland is a story of persistence. With wars, famine and poverty coloring its history, the people of Ireland have built up a strong willpower. Whatever comes their way, they keep pushing forward with an outward optimism that is both charming and admirable. There are two great ways to learn from this bit of Irish culture – first, when your chips are down; keep your chin UP! Others are inspired by an optimistic and resilient person and they will remember your confidence and good character.

    Second, investing in social capital takes a little perseverance; it doesn’t happen overnight. There’s an investment in getting to know people and building authentic trust. With some people it’s organic, with others it takes more time. Don’t give up; as time goes by, you’ll see evidence of success in your ability to build positive and powerful relationships.

  4. Have Fun!
    Even though St. Patrick’s Day technically celebrates the death of a saint who reportedly removed all the snakes from Ireland during the fifth century, these days, people of other cultures all around the globe pause for a moment, put their “Irish on”  and celebrate what is festive, fun and heartwarming in life. The Irish are known for having a great sense of humor, being open to new adventures, storytelling and bringing life to any party, wherever they are and whoever they are with.

    This is a critical aspect to building social capital. You want to be the person everyone loves to spend time with. In order to do that, take a queue from the Irish and show off your fun-loving side. Display your true personality, take others on adventures and always be the life of the party wherever you go.  

Forget about a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Building Social Capital is better than gold, its money in the bank of life that will get you much further in your career. So, the next time you want to create a good impression, have some fun and make a friend for life — channel your inner Irishman and enjoy yourself.
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