Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Use NodeXL data to build network focused on common goals

Last September I saw a post on Twitter and followed it to a NodeXL map, that created a visual history of conversation around specific Twitter hashtags, over a defined period of time. I created a map, then wrote a tutorial on how to  use NodeXL in this blog article

Last week the National Mentoring Summit was held in Washington, DC, with nearly 1000 people from around the country participating. While I've attended these in the past (see articles here and here), I didn't have the money to attend this year. So I participated by following some of the sessions via a live feed, and by interacting using the #mentoringsummit2016 hash tag.

If you've read any of the articles on this blog you'll know that my goal is to connect the entire "village" of people who need to be involved making needed tutoring, mentoring and learning organizations available in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities.  To do that, thousands of people need to be connected to each other, to information the can use, and to individual locations where youth and volunteers connect in organized programs.

Intermediaries, such as the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, can help establish these connections. That's why I'm writing this article. It's what I do every day.

While conferences that gather a thousand people are great, and offer dozens of workshops to learn from, the reality is that you can only attend one workshop in each time frame, and in a big group, you only meet a few people, and get to ask one question...at the most.

Thus, I'm committed to online learning and network building as a way to connect with more people, and dig deeper into information that's available.  See articles I'ved tagged as MOOC and Learning

Thus, my work last week intended to build my own list of Twitter followers, and visitors to my own web sites, but to help others build their own networks at the same time.

Last week I asked Marc Smith, of NodeXL if he'd create a map using #mentoringsummit2016, which he did. Here's the link to the graphic shown below.

I encourage you to read the tutorial article I referred to above.  However, if you open the link, you can enlarge the graphic to the point where you can run your mouse over the nodes and see the Twitter name of each node. On this map you see four major clusters and several minor. The lines represent ties connecting people on the map with each other.  If you scroll down below the map you can find the top 10 influences, you can find web sites referred to most often, and as you scroll further down you can find more people who were most active in Tweeting, reTweeting and commenting.  

If you're trying to build your Twitter network, you would want to follow the people who were most active. If you want to build your influence network, you'd want to reach out and connect to these people throughout the year, while following the links they point to in their own Twitter posts, and reTweeting these to your own network.

When I started using the Internet in 1998 there was great optimism that this was a low-cost way for people without big advertising dollars to reach out and build a network of people who shared a common purpose, and who might help each other.  As we head into 2016 the optimism is somewhat reduced as Facebook, Google and others install controls on their platforms that make each message you post visible to only a small fraction of your followers and people who care about the same issues. 

Finding ways to use network analysis tools like NodeXL to help you find and connect with others who share your own goals is a strategy any of us could deploy on a regular basis to help build our network and our own visibility and influence.

I hope to hear stories from some of the tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities of how they might be doing this, and how they may be engaging their own students, volunteers, staff and supporters in on-line learning, network building and program support efforts.

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