A saying that exists across society is the idea of, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” In such a setting there are various levels of exploiting/maximizing/economizing social networks. While nature and nurture might argue about why, humans are decidedly selfish individuals. Evolutionary principles would state that you are always responsible for your own safety and well-being where you are only responsible for others when it is beneficial to others. These moments of dual benefits are what I like to call mutually beneficial selfish responses.
While some people might call it altruism, there are times when helping others does have very little gain for yourself. However, even in these situations there can be gains in other non-observant ways. For example, while you might not get anything from helping someone carry something out to their car, you might feel a sense of accomplishment or other internal things that make you feel better, which can lead to a healthier self. Another example is actually using your social network to help someone else. You might not be able to help someone monetarily but by introducing them to someone you may be able to help them out. This again might not seem like a winning situation for you, except in some circles this is where you gain loyalty, or a favor in return, or you might even be included on a business deal that you weren’t originally going to be part of.
Finally, when you do become part of a group, doing things that help yourself can also help the group. Just because you are supposed to work as a group doesn’t mean that it is most effective to do everything together. Sometimes being selfish and taking aspects of a group project that you would be the best at and each bringing something to the table makes the group more efficient and effective. Taking a leadership role and delegating tasks while it can seem selfish, can actually be beneficial to everyone in the group as well. Just because you as an individual benefit from being selfish doesn’t mean that others can’t also benefit.
What are you doing today for yourself that could benefit someone else?