Recently I spent a couple of days focusing on social networks. Weaving Smart Networks: Building Capacity for Positive Change in Organizations and Communities was facilitated by Valdis Krebs, Lisa Kimball, June Holley and Jack Richiutto. The sponsors of the program, held in Washington, DC, were the Plexus Institute and Aspen Institute.
The whole idea behind social networks is that capacity increases when the connections between people enable open sharing of information and collaboration. When you seek to understand a network, you undertake Social Network Analysis (SNA) which involves a short survey and mapping software that displays the connections. A typical network map, as Valdis Krebs has created, will look something like this: (click on the image to enlarge it and see the detail)
As you examine the larger network map, notice where there are points where two people each connect to the same person but are not connected to each other. June Holley calls these “twosies”. When the person at the center of that open triangle closes it, the ties become stronger in that part of the network.
Jack Richuitto suggests seven levels of network weaving we are capable of. Starting with the strongest and most involving and moving down, they are:
7. Introducing A to B in person and offering a collaboration opportunity to get A and B off to a successful partnership
6. Introducing A to B in person and following up with A and B to nurture connection
5. Introducing A to B in person
4. Introducing A to B in a conference call
3. Introducing A to B in an email
2. Suggesting A talk to B and calling B to look for a contact
1. Suggesting to A that A should talk to B
Consider how often you are in the position of closing the triangles through network weaving. As a facilitator of communication, collaboration, innovation and social change, where does network weaving fit in your personal philosophy? Are you ready for the opportunities it provides?