Integrating A Network Mindset Into Your Daily Work | Beth's Blog

Integrating A Network Mindset Into Your Daily Work

Networked Nonprofit

Adopting a networked mindset is believing in abundance rather than scarcity.   Scarcity thinking is the conviction that we need to do everything ourselves.   That holds us back from embracing  networked ways of working.  This is especially important if you want to be effective using social media for your organization, but it is bigger than that.   Having a networked mindset as you approach your daily work can help you get better results.

You can more efficient.   For example,   turning to your  professional online networks can help save you time because you don’t need to know everything about a topic area.   Social media tools can help you easily connect with people who have the knowledge, resources, and ideas to share.

How to put network weaving  into daily practice?

1.  Think about  your current work.

Brainstorm a list of the content areas and tasks in your current job.     What is it that you need to know or be able to do as part of your job.

2.  Identify Specific Network Weaving Techniques To Integrate

I’ve been having this conversation with several groups lately,  Network of Networked Funders and  Network Weaving Sandbox, comprised of individual who are intentionally approaching their work with a network mindset.  What an excellent opportunity to research one’s practice, specifically the trade craft of network weaving.   June Holley,  an expert in networks and facilitating a community of practice of network weavers, defines some of these techniques below.

Close Triangles: This is the practice of introducing people in your network to one another.   You need to let them know why you are making the introduction and these can be done both online and offline.

Work Transparently: The more public you are, the easier you can be found, the more opportunities you have.  Of course, everything doesn’t have to be public, but not everything needs to be closed.    One small step towards transparency is letting go of information (that isn’t confidential).    Don’t wait for people to ask – share it through social networks.

Convene: This is bringing together small groups of stakeholders to give you input and feedback – from designing programs to planning.  These can be done offline and online.

Engage New Perspectives: We tend to stay in our comfort zones and don’t engage different perspectives — learning from adjacent practices can be useful.

Post Questions to  Individuals and the Crowd: Social network tools make it very easy to ask questions to individuals and groups of individuals  – from posting a question on your Facebook Status, LinkedIn Q/A, or Twitter, you can informally and quickly get answers.      There is a new social network, Quora,  that is built on the concept of asking and answering questions.

Share Learning: To share learning, you have to intentionally hit the pause button and reflect.  One way to incorporate this technique into your day is to set aside five minutes at the end of the day for reflection.    Blogs are terrific vehicles for sharing learning.

Model Network Weaving: Network weaving encourages rhizomatic behavior – so what better way then to model the techniques for others.

3.    Where are the gaps?

Looking at the items in 1, think about the gaps.  Where are you falling short?   Where can network weaving techniques help you unleash the abundance that networks offer.   For example, rather than goggling the answer to a question you don’t know,   refer the person someone in your network who knows the answer.    What are some other ways you can leverage your network for your work?

4.   Visualize Your Network

An important technique  is to visualize your network.   Steve Waddell, talks about the value of mapping networks for systemic change, maps are most useful as tools to generate discussion about “what is”, “what can be” and “what needs to change”.    Looking at your network map while thinking of gaps can be an insightful step.

Mapping Your LinkedIn Network

Recently LinkedIn created this free social network analysis mapping tool that lets you see your LinkedIn network and better understand relationships between you and your network.    The most powerful feature of the map is that allows you peer into your network, notice connections, and to remind yourself of people you know but may not of thought about in years.   Some questions to ask:

  • What patterns do you see?
  • What surprises you?
  • What might you do differently with your network?

I learned a lot by browsing through the visual of network.    My network is dense because I’m connected to a lot of well-connected people.  What surprised me was how densely connected people who work in nonprofit technology (the green), while examining it detail the map revealed a mini-history of the field.  Viewing my whole network in this visual format helped me remember people who I haven’t been in touch with and their knowledge.

Using the map with a specific question about a gap is far more valuable exerise.   I make a lot of referrals and I tend to get in ruts, but using the LinkedIn map as a spark to think of new people was useful.

The Challenge of Change

When I think about the network weaving tasks, it takes conscious effort to incorporate them.    There are a couple of levels of challenges.   The biggest hurdle is making that first mental leap – perceptions get in the way:

Information Overload: The issue is being able to shift between connectedness and solitude.    Once we are able to do this in discrete ways, we can avoid the feeling of anxiety that might come from being confronted with a lot of unstructured information.

Time Consuming: Learning new skills does take time to develop a habit and then it becomes less time consuming because you don’t have to think about the skill so much.   Stephen Covey says it takes 23 days to make habit.  One way to start is to focus on new network weaving skill a month.   Write it down on a sticky note and put it on your computer and try to use that skill once a day.

Steep Learning  Curve: Learning curves become steep when we try to take on too much at once.  Try to break down the task.   Also, having a peer group or a colleague who is learning the skill with you helps with motivation.

Few Incentives: How many of have “network weaving” as a formal part of our jobs?  Or even the informal on the job learning techniques that are such an important part of network weaving.

How have you put a network mindset into practice?  What makes it valuable for your work?   What are the barriers and how have you overcome them?

See my posts at the Foundation Center’s Glass Pocket’s Blog

Integrating the Networked Mindset Into Grantmaking P1

Integrating the Networked Mindset Into Grantmaking P2


10 Responses

  1. […] Kanter: Integrating A Network Mindset Into Your Daily Work (Beth’s […]

  2. marnie webb says:

    i agree that strong functioning networks are an example of abundance and embracing that mindset requires belief in abundance rather than scarcity.

    I do think that networks can often time-slice people and organizations; networks can be about one aspect of a person or organization, the aspect that benefits the network. Communities, on the other hand, are about the whole person and organization. Caterina Fake has some great notes from Dumbing Us Down that talk about this particular point:

    It’s that facet that brings the downside of networks — the information overload, feeling timesliced among many different efforts. Maybe part of the answer is to also think about community weaving — networks can build strengths to do specific things (like, oh, say make donated technology available around the world*) but they can be less good at the ongoing day-to-day support that a community can provide. So maybe a network weaver also needs to integrate community of practice management, community engagement into their job as well.

    I’m still trying to work through this — the role of networks and communities. How we get the best from our all our contributors without ignoring the issues and needs that may touch another part of their organization and/or life. It feels like the problem is also related to localization and scale. Maybe communities are about localization and networks about scale.

    * I work for I made a little fun at my own expense.

  3. Thanks for this – useful in helping me think of additional ways to get colleagues to understand that social media isn’t “in addition to” but “instead of” – moving from current to better practices.

    Musings –

    Metaphor for all this – it is like moving from fossil fuel energy to renewable energy. There are tradeoffs, but ultimately it is a better approach.

    Also, in Raj Patel’s recent book “The Value of Nothing” he includes the statement – “The opposite of consumption isn’t thrift. It’s generosity.” Somehow, as we look for ways to downsize, social media plays an important role in encouraging us to be generous with our time, talents, and information.

    Finally, Seth Godin recently posted a very short piece “You don’t need more time . . . you just need to decide.” Which sums all this up enormously.

  4. I do feel that I let perceptions and information overload getting in the way of exploring new avenues. I am a big believer in the 28 days to make something a habit and have successfully done this with a number of tasks that are now just a part of my day and I do see payoffs in these efforts. My barriers have been time commitment, information overload and really sticking to the 28 day rule. I am quick to decide if I see value for assisting me in building my network before / after 28 days even If the action becomes like second nature I abandon it and move on. “network weaving” is my next 28 day study. I learned a lot from this post and I am excited to get down and into “network weaving“, creating triangles and reaching for my network instead of Google. Thanks Beth.

  5. […] In Integrating a Network Mindset into Your Daily Work ,  Beth Kanter writes: Adopting a networked mindset is believing in abundance rather than scarcity.   Scarcity thinking is the conviction that we need to do everything ourselves.   That holds us back from embracing  networked ways of working.  This is especially important if you want to be effective using social media for your organization, but it is bigger than that.   Having a networked mindset as you approach your daily work can help you get better results. […]

  6. Erica says:

    Sometimes I am so stubborn. I get busy trying to do it all and I forget that there are lots of people (smart people) who would be willing to help me – if I would only ask.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  7. Very useful post! I can see the online new opportunities to work with a networked mindset can also take people away from their tasks and distract and confuse them. Hence my question nowadays is whether it works for everybody, for whom not and why?

    For me it works when my (thematic and people) focus is clear. Where I am unsure it often leaves me doubt and feeling unsuccesful.

  8. Tobi Johnson says:

    Thanks, Beth, for again reminding us the power of people!!! And, the power of the network doesn’t just apply to social media — I spent last week doing needs assessment interviews with volunteer coordinators who are struggling with volunteer recruitment and retention. One barrier is that they feel the urge to provide direct service to clients, versus delegating this task to volunteers. The result? Volunteers don’t feel like they are making a difference and coordinators feel overwhelmed. We’re workshopping in April & I may suggest we do some mapping to better identify where their resources can be found. Your post offers some pragmatic approaches. We need to change how we see ourselves — from the one-woman band or part of a small quartet to the leaders of a giant orchestra…one that not only plays live concerts but also shares its talents across many channels!

  9. […] Integrating Network Mindset View more presentations from jolivacea.Adopting a networked mindset is believing in abundance rather than scarcity. Scarcity thinking is the conviction that we need to do everything ourselves. That holds us back from embracing networked ways of workin  […]