Good Practice: the SDC Experience with Nurturing Networks and Membership Management

January 03, 2012 | LND | Methods & Tools, SDC Networks |


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By Nara Weigel

NaraIn her first blog post A Treasure of SDC Experiences in Managing and Supporting Networks: 7 Guides to Make it your Own, Nara Weigel presented the interlinked good practice guides available on the website of the Learning and Networking Division. This blog post, explores two of the guides in more detail: nurturing networks and managing the membership of SDC networks. Two users of the guides share their first reactions, personal reflections and further lessons from their daily work as network focal point and backstopper.

Nurturing Networks

What are networks and why do they need to be nurtured? How can networks be sustained or nurtured and who can do what to this end? These are some of the questions the guide aims to answer.

As Focal Point of the SDC Climate Change and Environment Network, Ueli Mauderli knows the network inside out and has become an expert in nurturing networks. He recognises his network in the guide and appreciates that it emphasises how important it is to consciously nurture the network. Ueli also points to some challenges institutionalised networks may encounter in establishing themselves and becoming relevant in conditions that are not always favourable to knowledge sharing and learning.


Managing Membership

The guide on managing membership tries to define what this means in the SDC context and outlines a few critical issues to consider, e.g. how to do a stakeholder mapping, who does the managing of members, defining membership and strategically steering it. The guide also points to some ways of keeping members engaged and helping them manage their precious time.

Bertha Camacho, Knowledge Management and M&E Specialist from SKAT, is an experienced backstopper of SDC networks. In the video below she highlights what to keep in mind when doing a stakeholder mapping and her experience with managing who has access to which type of information within networks. She also shares some tips on how to keep members engaged and happy.

The Human Factor

The reflections on membership management and nurturing networks remind us that networks are collections of people. Each network member has a particular perspective and various motivations to be engaged. Although a network could be relatively “anonymous”, in the SDC context most networks include many people who already know and/or work directly with each other. SDC networks involve relationships among people in different places, with different experiences, areas of expertise and responsibilities – often from both within and outside the organisation. Consequently, a crucial aspect of supporting the ongoing work and the evolution of a successful network lies in making the network interesting and welcoming, and ensuring that people feel comfortable, valued and motivated.

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