From Networked Advocacy
Definition: Networks survive on the strength of one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many conversations and exchanges. Tools like the website, profiles, listserv, email, online meetings, phone conferences, one-on-one, focus groups, conferences and cultural processes cement ties between the group.
Conversations in progress: 1. How can gauge the strength of network communications? 2. How can we strengthen communications? 3. What does this look like in the 'real world'? Share stories and examples by adding 'articles' below. add your thoughts and reflections below...
Feeling out network communications: what to explore and ask
- What listservs do the members use? Who's on what listserv? Do people send and receive relevant and useful information?
- How frequently do network members meet in person? How? How useful are these meetings?
- Do network members use Skype or other instant messaging?
- How often do network members call eachother?
- What other kinds of communication do members use? Phone calls, IM, broadcast emails, radio, etc.?
- How many people have adopted critical communications tools? Both internally and externally. How many conversations happen online vs. offline?
- Do network members knows which forms of communication are favored by others in the network?
- Can network members find IDs/contact info for others in the network?
- Which media sources do network members read? most popular? Do they listen to the same sources? Can everyone equally access the same sources?
- Do network members have the political or functional ability to contact everyone else within the network? For example, can an intern email a mid- or senior-level staffperson?
- How often do individuals talk with others, get information from others, offer help to others, discuss new ideas with others? (Cross 147)
- How many NGO partners or coalitions belong to the network?
- Are the 'right' people involved in the network and/or communicating?
- WHAT ELSE?
Building your network communications: what you can do
- Find out which listservs are used by network members. Orchestrate existing or create new listservs to more effectively and efficiently serve the community.
- Articulate any communications norms or expectations, for example around listservs and meetings. This includes building communications systems that don't overwhelm network members (for example, explain the 'digest' feature of listservs). Create rules about how to categorize or send/not send information through shared communications channels. Consider if/who should moderate these channels.
- Feel out who network members need to communicate with to do their work more efficiently. Feel out any related obstacles. Is a key network member consistently slow on email, or resistant to instant messaging? What strategies or interventions can overcome those challenges?
- Review which media sources are favored by network members. Are their gaps?
- Consider establishing an Intranet to facilitate intra-office communication and sharing. Or tools like Google Docs.
- Collect and share/post contact information - email, Skype, etc.
- Devise places or systems for informing new network members on how to tap into network members - accomplished in part through communications protocol and contact information lists.
- Remember, successful communications are based on strong social relationships. Foster social ties between network members.
- Video conferencing
- Consider systems for helping network members in different time zones or with different access to resources to stay connected.
- Leaders model effective communications, including adoption of web-based tools.
- Blogging field trip: A group of four to six colleagues from diverse backgrounds would be selected to participate in a trip that would be organized around fact-finding or documenting a current foreign policy issue. A group blog with built-in photo galleries and other multimedia tools would be set-up for them to document the trip. Each day the participants would post at least one story about their experiences and at least * Infuse money into ramping up network member websites. Many websites of smaller advocacy groups in particular contain only partial information about the organization, are out of date, don’t include current reports and other content, and don’t allow supporters to engage, support, or get involved. Work with selected organizations to develop new structure and approach to their web sites. Modern web-publishing platforms will allow easy updating of content for organization staff as well as the flexibility to add new resources and tools over time. More interactive web sites will help to energize and engage current and potential supporters.
- Providing tailored support to a defined network of groups collaboratively and providing a common set of tools
- conferences, retreats
- WHAT ELSE?