Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Networking and Collaboration: Critical Components

There's lots of talk about collaboration these days, yet unless someone maintains a database of interested parties, and sends out an invitation for people to come together, it's not likely that most of the organizations that might collaborate will every meet often enough to build a shared understanding of issues, along with the trust and understanding needed for a collaboration to work. In fact, it's highly probable that most of the organizations who might collaborate and learn from each other will never connect.

For more than 30 years I've been building a database of people involved or interested in volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring, as well as those interested in school reform, poverty reduction, workforce development, diversity, civic education, democracy, etc.

Prior to the internet my database included Chicago and Illinois based organizations. Now it includes organizations in all parts of the world.

One of the strategies for building this network, and for helping organizations meet, build shared understanding, trust, etc., has been to invite people to come together every six months for Tutor/Mentor Leadership Conferences. As Internet collaboration and elearning tools have become more available to small non profits, we've begun to move part of the conference to the Internet, meaning more people from more places can connect with each other, and with those who attend the conference in Chicago. More importantly, they can stay connected, which is essential to putting the learning to work.

On Friday, May 6 the 2005 eConferences will begin. Visit and you can find a schedule of workshops being delivered from different parts of the world. As you participate, I encourage you to come back here to blog your comments, or to connect and network with others.

If you host your own blog or list serve, set up your own space for information sharing and networking. Tell me about it and I'll add your link to the links list on my blog. These links will remain in place after the conference to encourage continued networking, elearning and collaboration.

The eConference is free. Participate as much or as little as you like. We've created the space. It's up to you to make it work for you and your organization.

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