In today's world of constant change individuals need to know where to go, who to contact, how to obtain information and resources to achieve a specific goal. This can be done through networks and coalitions.
A network consists of individuals or organizations who share information, ideas, resources or goals to accomplish individual or group goals. (Jackson 1991) Networking is a process of acquiring resources and building power by using or creating linkages between two or more individuals, groups, or organizations. It provides a valuable tool for getting things done. (Wells 1989) Information and resources are obtained from others, and it is the lack of information and resources that hinders us.
We network everyday of our lives whether it's informal or formal. If one individual lacks the information you are seeking he or she can refer you to another individual. The more individuals you know the more individuals will know you, the greater the probability of accomplishing your goals. Your visibility increases and your network of individuals increases. The aim is to meet as many individuals as possible.
As you network with individuals you will need some basic tools such as:
USING AND EXPANDING NETWORKS
Decide whether your current goal is money, power or social. Examine your list and contact the most powerful and influential individual to help achieve your goal. During your networking discuss what you have in common, your skills, type of information you are seeking and available resources. The more you share ideas, the more you will increase your potential clout.
Another aspect of networking is involvement in professional associations that can provide a wide range of contacts. Attend as many association meetings and conferences as possible. Make yourself visible and establish a reputation. Circulate at the meetings and exchange business cards, talk to everyone you know and meet new contacts. Afterward, follow-up with a phone call or note. Also participate in organizations other than professional associations where you can develop a wide range of contacts with people who share your ideas and concerns. Remember it's a two-way street.
You may want to establish a formal network with a specific interest or field. Tthis can provide opportunities to meet individuals with a broad range of expertise, obtain current information, meet specialists in the field and develop friendship.
We can have a greater impact on our goals by using networks and coalitions as major tools to multiply our power and efforts. If you network with ten individuals and those ten network with ten more, you have increased the number of individuals with whom you can exchange information and resources from ten to one hundred. We can do a great deal when we join our efforts with those of other individuals.
Adapted from Discover Total Resources, The Mellon Bank Corportation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1985.
Building Coalitions was developed by The Ohio Center For Action on Coalition Development for Families and High Risk Youth, Richard Clark, Ph.D., Director.