Thursday, September 19, 2019

Know the Network. Nudge the Network.

I started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in 1975 while starting an advertising career with the Montgomery Ward Corporation in Chicago.  What I learned over the next 15 years was that leaders constantly need to be reaching out to people with different talents and networks to help them do the work needed to sustain and grow the organization.

As I was learning this by running a volunteer base program I was also learning this from how we used weekly national advertising to attract customers to our 400 retail stories located in 40 different states. The graphic above visualizes the idea that it takes teams of people with different talents to help youth tutor, mentor and learning programs thrive. In a big city like Chicago, it takes many of these programs to reach just a fraction of the 200,000 or so kids who could benefit.

Talent needed - click here
At the right is a concept map that visualizes the talent needed to help an organization thrive.  Each of these nodes should link to social media or Linkedin profiles of people who are providing that talent in support of the organization's mission.

In the blue box at the top of this cMap is a link pointing to a similar map, which shows networks, rather than skills.   You need a mix of talent representing different networks.

Finding and recruiting people to fill these roles is an on-going challenge, that is especially difficult for smaller organizations who don't have major civic and/or business support.

I participated in two Twitter chats today which were in support of events held in Chicago which each attracted at least 200 civic and business leaders.  One was hosted by the Metropolitan Planning Council, with the Raj Chetty (see my July article) as keynote speaker. I show one Tweet from that event,  using #MPCLuncheon as the hashtag.

The second, held during the same time frame, was live streamed by the City Club of Chicago.  Here's a Tweet that announced the event.
For several years I've been encouraging event organizers to be more active in encouraging participants to connect on Twitter using a common hashtag.  At the same time I've also encouraged them to use network analysis tools like NodeXL to create a graphic showing who did participate and how they are connected to each other.

Today I posted a Tweet at the start of the event encouraging Metropolitan Planning Council organizers to do this.

Then later this afternoon I received a message from NodeXL with a map that they created showing participants in the #MPCLuncheon event. I show it below.

You can see this actual map, and view an interactive version, at this link.   

I think there are 25 nodes (Twitter users) on this map. That's far short of the 150-200 who were at the actual lunch event, or the potential audience who could have been following on line.  To make a comparison, visit the NodeXL gallery and view their collection of maps. Many with several hundred nodes. 

Update:  Here's an updated NodeXL map, from 9-20-2019 showing 43 users.  click here

I've posted several articles in the past showing how network analysis can help community organizers build a better understanding of who is participating in their events, and thus, also a better understanding of who is missing.

Connect those who can help
with those who need help.
Using this information I feel organizers can nudge the network to do learning, network building, donating, volunteering, voting, etc. and other things needed to build and sustain an effective organization.

They can also reach out to add new people based on what talents and networks are missing from their ecosystem.  Furthermore, they can use these maps to demonstrate a growing (or shrinking) participation over months and years.

I'll share this article on social media with the goal that some of the people who see it will a) embrace the idea and build it into future activities; or b) show me blog posts that illustrate how they are already doing this type of work.

Maybe some will even add me as a consultant to their planning teams to help them think through network building and engagement strategies like this.

Thanks to Valdis Krebs for the "Know the network. Nudge the Network." phrase.

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