I’ve been following the news about the various anti-capitalist protests around the world. We’ve even had one sprout up in the middle of Queen Square in Bath!

It got me thinking – that maybe we should be careful about how to use the terms capital, capitalism and capitalist. Capital isn’t just money! As you will know if you’ve read my blog before, I believe that your most valuable asset is your Personal Network. It’s much more valuable than money in the bank – conventional “financial” capital.

These days, our social media presence and our network of contacts is referred to as our “social capital”. It’s a good term – and gets us to think of this network as an asset (much like our savings, pensions, etc). I think it’s important that we continue the analogy – and learn from the “financial” capitalists to protect, nurture and grow our social assets.

All my reading leads me to the conclusion that there is a significant power change going on in the world. My feeling is that the disasters in the world economy shields one of the biggest changes – and that is the empowerment of the individual. The growth of our social network, the change in the dynamics of the workplace and our dissatisfaction with the old system of work/get paid/consume is leading us on a new path.

We now have the tools as individuals to create and grow significant Social Capital. In time, this will mean that we will chose where we want to work – and how we want to work. We will be courted by businesses who can meet OUR requirements – and we will need to be convinced that a business matches OUR personal needs. The shoe is moving to the other foot.

I did a google search for the term “social capitalist”. There are a wide range of definitions. For example, Wikipedia says that it’s an economic theory around macro-economics and philosophy (not what I am proposing).

Fast Company appeared to give awards to Social Capitalists up until recently. Their Social Capitalists are “Social Entrepreneurs who are changing the world”. I like those too – but it’s not what I am talking about.

My idea of Social Capitalists is you and me. People who believe in their network, want to make connections, give value to those around them and cherish relationships as their most important asset.

We need to be careful with our Social Capital. I’ve written before about my concern about social networks – especially Facebook. They act in effect as our bankers, places where our social capital is held side by side with that of others. We need to learn from the banking crisis that we should be very careful where we put our trust – and check if our social capital is safe.

Every financial adviser will tell you that it is most important to protect your capital. We should do the same with our Social Capital. We should not allow our relationships to erode. We need to nurture and keep our currency.

My idea of Social Capitalism offers a middle ground between our current financially driven world – and the bartering of the past. This combined with our craft and skills will help us make our way in the world – finding work that excites us and the people who give us energy. Becoming Social Capitalists is at the core of this opportunity to leverage and grow.

Power to the people – and viva Social Capitalists!