Networks are everywhere these days, working all around the world to solve a huge range of problems from child protection to health to climate change, education, peace and security, women in tech, and many more. However, the people that work for and with networks don’t always have the understanding, knowledge, and skills they need to work in a network environment effectively and create impact. Collective Mind believes in the power of networks to foster collective action — but knows from firsthand experience that the people that work for and with them need learning and support to make that happen.
Collective Mind is trying to translate this idea into tangible resources to equip networks, and the people who work for and with them, to be more effective and impactful. They offer support to networks themselves through advisory and consulting services. As a “network-of-networks”, they also convene network practitioners across a wide range of topics and geographic areas within a learning community to share knowledge and collaboratively problem solve.
As they continue to grow and define their network-of-networks, Collective Mind came to the LabStorm group for advice. They had questions about how to more clearly define their brand, engage people with their work, and help people understand the value of networks. LabStorm attendees had some great ideas about how to ensure that the mission of Collective Mind is clear, accessible, and one that people will want to be a part of. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Define Collective Mind’s target audience. Collective Mind can start by clearly defining the network practitioners they want to reach. They would benefit from clearly defining the different sub-groups or network “types” that would benefit from Collective Mind, especially focusing on people for whom networks are their bread-and-butter. From there, they could create an onboarding form that asks new folks in the network to identify which group they feel like they fit in.
Language is another challenge. Collective Mind wants to take care to find the right language to describe the groups they serve, while avoiding jargon. Collective Mind can create different iterations of the language on the onboarding form, and then track the analytics to see what language resonates with different target audiences.
2. Test Assumptions. It would be useful to test assumptions about Collective Mind in order to better serve clients. The first assumption that Collective Mind can test is the demand for their services. One LabStorm attendee made a good analogy that Collective Mind could test whether they are “oxygen”, “aspirin”, or “jewelry” to their clients. Other attendees suggested that to make Collective Mind a “must-have” as opposed to just being a helpful tool, they could match members to groups or services based on the problems that they need solved. Then, depending on the outcomes of the matches, they can continue to adjust their matching strategy. Overall, Collective Mind can focus more on making their assumptions explicit, testing them, and integrating that learning back into the activities they design in order to create products that network practitioners value.
3. Get on social media to build credibility. With the current day’s emphasis on social media, it is necessary to create a presence there that people can connect to. One attendee noted that even if social media is not a priority for Collective Mind, they would still benefit from having profiles on websites such as Twitter in order to build brand credibility. When new clients start researching Collective Mind, they may look on social media, and will be reassured to see that the organization has an active profile. In order to use social media effectively, Collective Mind should determine what platforms their audience(s) engages with the most and then share any content that they create for their website, or other light-touch posts that add credibility for their followers.
This LabStorm reminded us of the value of networks. In order to solve tough societal problems, collaboration through — and between — networks is vital. That way, people with different vantage points and assets can come together to address them. Do you have experience with building networks or connecting with other network practitioners? If so, leave a comment below, or send a note to [email protected].