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How Communication in Networks Differs from Communication in Organizations

Here is a chart on challenges that network face in their communications.

Network Communication Challenge Actions/ Strategies
People are in different organizations and use different communications tools and platforms.
  • Need to decide on a set of platforms and tools and provide training to network participants
  • Practice groups will need design session for their comm ecosystem – then need to check-in and coach to make sure they are using
  • Need to encourage people to become tech stewards to help people out
  • Encourage participants to “learn how to learn” and try out many different platforms
  • Encourage people to recommend new platforms


People are often used to one-way communication and are not used to initiating conversation or even information.


Network activities are often only a small part of the individual’s work (or volunteer) life so it’s harder for them to stay on top of the actions they have committed to do.
  • Need to find out ways to push messages to people through email and text loops
  • Need to set up reminders through calendars or project management
  • Use Google docs so people know where to go for list of what they agreed to do
  • Coordinators need to send out reminders frequently
People in networks often don’t know each other or know each other well.
  • Continually encourage people to reach out to others (Twosies) and create charts and/or surveys that group people by interests so they know they will have something in common with the person they call
  • Make sure that video calls have time for introductions and breakout rooms
  • Need to make it a norm to Close triangles; start with proto-governance group
People in one practice group will not know what is going on in others or know what network guardians are doing
  • This is the hardest
  • Set up incentive system for sharing
  • Ask specific people to share stories from their practice group in enewsletter and Facebook
  • Have proto gov group seek out stories
People need continual feedback about whether they and their various groups are acting in a network way
  • Set up tracking system (Network FitBit) and engage all parts of the network in using, analyzing results, and developing strategies to shift
  • Capture stories (and encourage people to make short videos) that capture learnings and give examples







2 thoughts on “How Communication in Networks Differs from Communication in Organizations

  1. June,

    Thanks for this! Very helpful. And my big question is (and we have talked about this before) – how do you incentivize sharing? Just met with a network where we talked about having a coordinator do more direct outreach to people, interviewing them about what’s new in their work, what resources they would recommend, etc. This is not only can this be expedient for the interviewee. it helps people feel seen/appreciated. And sharing can be not simply textual, but audio or visual. And when this kind of interviewing isn’t possible or welcome, we’ve found regularly reaching out to remind people is useful and also saying the information will be shared more publicly (a form of recognition that can be an incentive). I also think curation can be a form of incentive, when people feel like what they have to share is not somehow “good enough.” And what else is working around other assets to share?

  2. Curtis raises important points. Since 1994 I’ve maintained a data base/directory of around 200 non-school, volunteer-based, tutor/mentor programs operating in Chicago. I share the list at and in other places. I hosted conferences in Chicago every six months from 1994-2015 to encourage programs to network and share ideas and some participated frequently while many did occasionally and some did never. Since the Internet became a resource for me in 1998 I’ve hosted this list on line and I’ve encouraged programs to look at how each other is communicating and borrow ideas from those they like. Unfortunately, I don’t find many who are using blogs, videos, social media, etc. to tell what they do, why they do it, how they do it and the challenges they face, as well as the successes they feel they are having. In fact I find only a handful with blogs on their web sites, and these are mostly bulletin boards showing events and recognizing donors.

    I think that giving positive recognition to those doing good communications, via re-tweets, likes, etc. is one way to encourage others to do the same, but that only works if those others are paying attention, or if the one giving the recognition is consistent, and has some degree of visibility and credibility or celebrity.

    While I focus on Chicago I have links to organizations all over the world in my web library. Thus, good ideas can be found in many places. I’ve enjoyed your articles and those of Vikas Krebs and others in past years and look forward to more in the future.

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