Tactical Philanthropy is currently covering the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations conference with the help of a blog team. This is a guest post by Stephanie McAuliffe of the David & Lucile Packard Foundation.
By Stephanie McAuliffe
I am anticipating the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations conference through a network lens. At the Packard Foundation we have spent the last year or so thinking hard about how to best support growth in the effectiveness of the “large N” networks we fund in our various program areas. The conference gives me a chance to indulge in my obsession about networks, spending a little more time thinking about small "n” networks.
A consultant engaged in the review of one of our programs said her firm would be tapping into her network and their networks and their networks to get to the complexity of the system the program is working to change and to push the frame out more broadly. From her I got the idea of approaching the GEO conference by “wandering in with a world view and discovering it is incomplete or unhelpful”.
Another influence to my approach at the conference is the explicit experimentation with network weaving that June Holley (and network) did at the NTEN conference in Atlanta last week.
At GEO I get a chance to practice network weaving because GEO set up a formal Ambassador program. They connected me with two colleagues who have never been to a GEO conference. June Holley defines network weavers as “someone who is aware of the networks around them and explicitly works to make them healthier (more inclusive, bridging divides). Network Weavers do this by connecting people strategically where there’s potential for mutual benefit, helping people identify their passions, and serving as a catalyst for self-organizing groups”. My goal is to live up this for the two newcomers. I understand that at SOCAP they call it “vibe maintenance”.
Networks have been around forever but one thing that has changed is the acceleration of networks with social media. So far some of the moments I have noticed are.
- Anticipation building with #2010GEO comments on twitter (and those friendly “see you there”? emails)
- Connection on linkedin.com with the two newcomers so we could see each others’ photos to increase the likelihood of success for the “meet you at the door of the plenary lunch” strategy.
- June and colleagues learning in public which sparks my thinking at their Crowdcrafting Google Doc.
If you are curious about Network Effectiveness and will be at #2010GEO be sure to come to session C6, I get to do an open space table. Otherwise check out workingwikily.net.
How do you network at conferences? Does social media help? Are you a weaver or ever been helped by one?.
Editor’s Note: You can follow Stephanie on Twitter at @StephanieMcA