From Networked Advocacy
Who is a network "member"?
Network members bring skills, resources and connections to the network. The network, in turn, should have a good sense of what's needed from the membership. Members must in turn feel they're gaining connections, knowledge and resources. They should know if they're a member of a network.
You are likely already a member of many different networks. What do you need to do and know to feel like you're part of the community?
Strengthening network members: action steps
- Establish clear criteria for membership - even if it's only a common belief or action. If necessary, lay out ways non-members can get involved/share resources.
- Build member recruitment processes, protocols and standards. Know how and when new members are approached, indoctrinated, etc.
- Know how the network compares to other groupings members might be involved with. Survey the landscape.
- Build density of connections between network members. This might include:
--getting everyone on the same communications platforms (IM, Skype, circulate or make easily available contact lists, etc.); --raising awareness of who’s in the network (how can you publicize who’s a network member? And what skills they have?); --orchestrating interactions between network members to increase strength and closeness of ties (happy hours, monthly breakfasts, shared projects, office swaps)
- Poll network members on what kinds of information they most need and how they'd like to receive it. Conversely, what can they share with other network members? Feel out which relationships have the most value for the network.
- Relationships will be built organically. But building broader awareness of and access to these resources is a vital way to help the network better harness its potential.
- WHAT ELSE? Continue to add to this list!
Evaluating the strength of network membership: what to explore and ask
- Who is a network member? Do they know they’re members?
- What’s the difference between network members, participants and allies?
- Who defines membership? Is it a formal agreement, based on interactions, or based on perceived or subconsciously experienced factors?
- Who recruits new members?
- What’s a reasonable number of network members?
- What do members need to know about the network?
- What value do participants get from the network? Why do they join?
- Where are network members located within the network? How does that dictate their level of engagement?
- Are members connected to the right people?
- Do members know what to expect from other network members - for example, network leaders?
- Who mentors or trains new network members?
- Are members able to easily self-assign to various roles within the network? Do they feel they have the power to do so?
- Are collaborative alliances forming? (ties) (Krebs and Holley, p. 2)
- Do members make ties on their own?
- How dense are connections between network members?
- Evaluation tools
- WHAT ELSE? Add your suggestions to this list!
Examples of strong network membership
Photo credit: Crowd photo: adlaw: http://www.flickr.com/photos/adlaw/88182813/