Better Communication in Networks: Four Research-Informed Tips
In our 2019 Annual Network Survey, we found that network leaders consistently reported communication as their biggest obstacle. Maintaining communication between network members isn’t easy. Rather, it’s easy to stumble into miscommunication and resulting conflict, which keeps you from reaching your goals. Thankfully, researchers have explored communication in networks in depth. Here are a few tips for better communication in networks.
First, It’s critical to get your partners on the same page about your group goals and reason for existence. Additionally, take time to share how each partner’s personal goals relate to those of the group. This can help avoid misunderstandings and conflict down the road.
Secondly, Use time between meetings to share information and educate members leading up to major decisions. You can also avoid surprising people in meetings by giving them prior notice of key decisions and assumptions. This is especially important for larger collaboratives which need more time to get to a consensus.
Third, Instead of taking the entire network down a tangent, put together a sub-committee to look into the issue and report back with a recommendation. However, if there isn’t enough interest to create a committee, the issue may not be important enough to follow up on.
Fourth, Try to keep members engaged with a variety of communication methods beyond just email. Try options like social media, virtual meetings, slack and others to meet partners where they are. Regardless of what you use, avoid email fatigue by limiting the number of messages you send.
Remember to create clear, shared goals to avoid misunderstandings. Second, Use time between meetings effectively to share information and make meeting time more impactful. Third, Avoid rabbit holes with subcommittees to handle specific issues. Finally, keep members engaged over time with regular digital updates. With these four tips, you’ll be on your way to better communication in networks!
About the Author: Alex Derr, M.P.A.
Director of Marketing & Communications
Alex joined VNL in 2017, originally supporting our events. He now helps manages our communications and marketing strategy and content development work. Alex creates blogs, infographics, reports, and other content while managing our web and social media presence. He also runs our email marketing campaigns, tracks analytics, and conducts market research to drive our strategy. He supports our entire team with copywriting, graphic design and research, and helps with events, webinars, demos, and other online learning. When he isn’t at work Alex spends his time climbing 14ers (24 done, 34 to go!) and blogging on his own website, The Next Summit Blog.
Subscribe to our Network Leader Newsletter!
Get access to new funding opportunities and research, plus articles, infographics, and other resources for building, managing, tracking, and strengthening cross-sector networks and community partnerships.