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Communications

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Contents

Defining communications

Needs for this page: 
* ideas for strengthening communications within communities
* favorite communications tools

Other network characteristics discussed on the wiki: 
* Social Ties
* Common Story
* Vision
* Shared Resources
* Feedback
welcome box

Networks survive on the strength of one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many conversations and exchanges. Tools like websites, listservs, email, face-to-face meetings, phone conferences and focus groups cement ties between the group.

Examples of strong communications

We're still in the process of gathering examples on the case studies page, after which we'll start linking to those illustrative of strong communications here. Add your examples below or on the case studies page!

Strengthening communications

  • Map communications tools currently used in the network. Know what people are comfortable with.
  • Exploit communications tools already in use with network, while keeping an eye out for new technologies that could amplify your work. For example, continue using listservs but carry that activity into collaborative strategy development on a wiki.
  • Develop protocols for various tools. A small bit of order can offset feelings of being overwhelmed. For example, consider subject line titles for listserv traffic. For example, events, news and jobs should be introduced as such in the email subject line.
  • Segment communications between network members, if necessary. Create specialized listservs for certain kinds of information or actors. Keep these offshoots tied into the greater identity.
  • Identify a "weaver" or other individuals to encourage frequent and effective communications.
  • Address roadblocks. Challenges might exist with particular individuals, processes or technologies.
  • Make contact information accessible. Communications in young networks is moderated by a central actor. Network members should have increased ability to communicate directly with each other as networks grow.
  • Train new network members on communications tools and culture.
  • Consider needs and challenges of network members in different locations, or with different technical capabilities.
  • Identify "champions" to model effective use of favored communications.
  • Monitor and evaluate. See what tools are used the most, how they're used, where people have trouble, etc.
  • WHAT ELSE?

Fun video on how interconnected we are:

Evaluating communications

The following questions can help you investigate the strength of your network communications...

  • Overview of some handy evaluation tools
  • What are the primary means of communication in the network? Email, face-to-face meetings, etc.?
  • How is each tool used - listserv, blogs, skype, etc. Who uses it? For what purpose? Who is not using it? How could it be used better?
  • What's the balance of offline and online communications? Is it intentional? Effective?
  • Do network members contribute to each other's work - comment on blogs, etc.?
  • Are any tools difficult or tense to use? What could make them easier?
  • Can network member easily contact other individuals or groups in the network?
  • Who is communicating? Who is not? How does this compare to the information the network wants to trade in?
  • What stumbling blocks exist? How can they be addressed?
  • Evaluation tools
  • WHAT ELSE?

Q&A and Tips

Ask questions of other network builders on the this page's 'discussion' page (follow the tab at the top of this page). We'll pull highlights and tips here.

  • Question currently under discussion: Building ties *between* network members, not just moderating them through a leader or weaver.


Photo credit: Crowd photo: adlaw: http://www.flickr.com/photos/adlaw/88182813/