What does a gangster and a board room executive have in common? Both make use of social currency to project themselves onto their audience. They have been socialized in different environments so the particulars of what they learned look very different. But the goal of their education is the same. Both environments will teach them what social skills are necessary to be safe, hold power, influence others and gain respect. You can gain respect through gang affiliation or through having an Ivy league education, all you have to do is surround yourself with the people who value what you have. The environment you are in determines whether or not you have a valuable method of exchange for your ideas.
I have been interested in the term Social Currency for as long as I can remember. More often it is being used in terms of the internet. The term is actually broader than that and it actually holds the key to why certain people have power or don't, and why certain people can move within different groups and why other people can get their ideas to spread. The true currency of people is Ideas. Social currency is the ability to effectively exchange ideas with another and at the highest level, to influence and control that exchange.
Some social currency is subtle such as proper dining etiquette which says I am privileged and have high relative status. It says my ideas are worthy of consideration and respect. Another silent form of social currency is a strong athletic walk which conveys confidence and power. These silent forms speak for us before our lips move. Many times they pre-qualify our ideas or cause others to discount our ideas before they have really had a chance to listen to us. Emotion is a big part of this equation also. Selling your ideas with enthusiasm and passion is a form of social currency as well.
Know how you make use of social currency. Know how you tend to project your personal power, how you influence and make use of emotion. Realize that the best ideas don't always win. The best person for the job may not always get the position or the sale. Often times it is the one who is the most self aware, the most deliberate in how the message is being delivered. Social currency, make use of it, become deliberate in its use, study others who are masters of influence. Use it effectively and see things go your way more often.