Last week I was in Barbados, one of the many island jewels scatted throughout the azure waters of the Caribbean. The United Nations has hired me to network a group of innovative leaders from 10 different countries. Soon after the participants arrived, we had them complete a form asking about their networks. Not surprisingly, we found that few of the attendees knew anyone else there. Time for some serious Network Weaving!
Several times throughout the workshop, we did a simple exercise called Speed Networking. Each individual shared their answers to questions such as "What excites you about learning about networks?" and "What are your dreams for networking people in the Caribbean Region?" with one other person, then took a turn listening to their partner. This way, people built a connection with 4 other people at the workshop so that they could comfortably go up to them during a break and start a conversation.
The best way that I've found to ensure that networks continue after meetings end is to get people working on a concrete project with others who share a common passion. Drawing on Jack's work, I had everyone in the room identify some issue area that they felt could make a huge difference for the region and that they were willing to work on over the coming year. Once the list of 15 dreams was complete, we could see that the opportunities could be grouped into 4 topic areas. These 4 groups then set to work mapping the network they would need to weave if they were to be successful in making things happen and identifying very specific Opportunity Spaces. Over the next two days, each group charted explicit network building steps they would take when they returned home. Now, one week after the session has ended, discussions are continuing online.