Empowering Everyone To Be A Network-Weaver

What if everyone who works at an organization, or cares deeply about an organization acted as a network weaver? How would that change the way that organizations communicate? How would that change how and the extent to which organizations raise funds online? That was just the conversation that I had in mind when my colleague Scott Remington and I presented a working session at the Jewish Federation Young Leadership Conference. We had one primary goal: to empower every person in the room to become a network weaver.

The presentation/workshop that Scott and I created for the conference presumed that half of the attendees did not work for a Federation, but volunteered their time, and that half would consist of paid staff. We knew that they wanted to be able to do more for the organization online, and thought about how we could empower any individual, regardless of whether or not he/she works at the organization, to support it. The presentation (embedded below) was intended as a conversation point for every attendees. It was our hope that this would inspire new thinking and acting … and connections on behalf of their local organizations. Within the workshop, we discussed five ideas:

1. Redefining Leadership. What is leadership nowadays? What does it mean to be an online leader, and is there a connection between being a network weaver and being an online leader? Does the network weaver also wield influence, and if so, how much? This segment highlights a few Jewish professional network weavers, including Miriam BrosseauYonah Bookstein, and Deborah Fishman, a definition of network weaving, a statement on online influence, and the Ten Commandments of (network) Relevance.

2. Developing Your Own Brand. Part of being a network weaver is to be clear about who you are, and are not. Why would someone want to connect with you and converse with you? What is your area or areas of interest? What is it that you care deeply about? We emphasize that you want to know why you are online, what you want to be conversing about, and with whom, as you begin your journey towards becoming a network weaver.

3. Mapping Your Own Network. Volunteers rely heavily on their personal networks. During this segment, we spent time in small groups thinking about groups of people within one’s personal networks, how to connect them to each other, and if there are obvious connections between these groups and the cause/organization.

4. The Network Weaver and Online Fundraising. Scott spoke about online fundraising and the connection between personal fundraising and network weaving. In this section, he highlighted trends in online fundraising, and he offered his Five Pillars of Online Fundraising.

5. Case Studies: How Network Weavers Succeed with Online Fundraising. The last part of our presentation focused on two individual case studies that illustrated the potential for the network weaver to impact fundraising. In the first, Scott spoke about how a tweet that he sent Henry Timms of the 92nd Street Y about Giving Tuesday inspired a Detroit-focused Giving Tuesday. In the second case study, I spoke about how Carter Gibson leveraged his tremendous network on Google Plus to raise money for the Horn of Africa relief fund.

Debra Askanase has 20 years of experience working in nonprofit organizations, from Community Organizer to Executive Director. She is the founder and lead consultant at Community Organizer 2.0, a social media strategy firm for nonprofit organizations and businesses. She blogs about the intersection of social media, nonprofits, and technology at communityorganizer20.com and regularly provides advice and commentary to our eJewish Philanthropy community.