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Are you Ready to Be a Network

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Defining "networks"?

Networks surround us. They are the informal web of people tied together by a fiber of "stuff". The ties that hold them together includes many things like common interest, trust and open communications (we get really into that later).

Networks underpin our personal or professional lives. They are looser than organizations and very different from agreements among organizations. Networks are people based. People bring with them all the baggage of who they are including their past, their skills and even their organization.

We've seen that these networks have great potential to achieve advocacy objectives. Networks take advantage of many of the trends of our current context. But networks aren't always the answer. Before delving into the nuts and bolts of how to build or strengthen a network, let's first consider if the conditions are right for your organization/group to be a network.

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Examples of effective networks

  • Coalition of Agencies Serving the Elderly, San Francisco, California, USA;
  • Organization Development Network, New Jersey, USA;
  • Sustainable San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA;
  • Democrats Abroad;
  • Organization Development Network (Human Change Project), La Habana, Cuba;
  • Montclair Monitors (Neighborhood Association), Oakland, California, USA;
  • RotaCare Free Clinics, San Jose, California, USA;
  • More examples on the case studies page!

Are you ready to be a network?

  • Collaboration must be necessary. A single actor can't achieve success alone. Individuals and organizations need to bridge functional areas, levels of access and other sorts of divides to achieve policy objectives.
  • Collaboration can work. Actors have an interest in working together. Individuals and organizations have room to collaborate.
  • Network members are open to using new technologies that support networks. It's not essential for networks to use new technologies, but many of these tools provide tremendous new opportunities for networks.
  • Activists, change makers, and organization/community development practitioners most likely can point to examples of when networks worked for them and when they did not. If networking is new, ask a seasoned networker for their tips.
  • The best of networks take little to no effort to start/join/build since the return on investment to those participating is obvious and/or there is a self-organization flow of participant contributions and resources. If there is too much effort, ask if conditions are right or not.
  • Also relevant: Making the case for building your network
  • WHAT OTHER considerations?

Building networks

This entire wiki is devoted to discussions of how to build networks. Check out the pages listed on the left: from building social ties, to gathering feedback, to identifying responsibilities for network leaders.

Q & A and Tips

Ask questions of other network builders on the this page's 'discussion' page (follow the tab at the top of this page). We'll pull highlights into this space.

This video touches on the idea of networks in an engaging way. It focuses on social networks, which is one of the many types of networks that exist. But imagine the same concept around a campaign... You get the idea...

Photo credit: Crowd photo: adlaw: