By Samantha Armstrong / AS Graduate Advisor
In my last article, I focused on collaboration and some of the benefits that can come when campus clubs and organizations work together for a common cause or when clubs and organizations tap into campus faculty and staff to accomplish organizational goals. I realized, following the publication of that article, that while I had discussed the tremendous potential collaborating can have, I did not provide a solid framework for how Western clubs and organizations can tap the full potential of their social network. By social network I mean the outlying body of individuals that members of your organization have contact with or access to. Knowing your social network not only helps members of your club or organization recognize what they have access to, but how it can benefit the club or organization they are apart of. Truly, there are times when it is not what you know, but who you know. Below you will find 10 easy steps for tapping your social network. Remember, tapping your social network can benefit you in fundraising attempts, event development, publicizing your organization, recruiting new members, and forming a general support base for your club or organization.
Here are instructions for an exercise that will help realize the full potential of your club or organization’s social network.
1. Gather your club members together. For this exercise, the more the merrier! If you have trouble getting everyone together, try adding in some incentive— food is always good! Make sure to e-mail or request information from those members who will not be able to make it to the meeting.
2. Get out a large piece of paper and colored markers. Lead your club through the process of figuring out whom they know by first drawing a circle in the center of the page. Put the name of your organization in the circle.
3. Then surround the circle, like the spokes on a wheel, with all the other groups or individuals you come in contact with on a regular basis. Start with other clubs, faculty, staff, and students not already involved with your club, and work outward to local businesses and organizations club members may have contact with.
4. Next, with a differently colored pen or marker, list the resources each of these groups has in abundance. Think about how you can work with them or how they may assist you in accomplishing the task at hand.
5. Now, go back over each group or person listed and ask what you would like them to know about your organization and what the benefit is to them for helping you out. The best way to engage these potential supporters is to introduce them to your work and what your club or organization stands for. You may want to invite them to attend one of your meetings or to come to an already scheduled event to learn more about your organization.
6. Add in some fantasy categories. Who is not yet on your map that you would love to have associated with your organization? Whose involvement would help drastically in helping you fulfill your goals or give an event that extra shot of support? Who do you wish you had on your team or as a resource for your club?
7. Draw connecting lines between groups on your resource map who already talk to each other. You will see instantly how fast news could travel if you reach out to those around you. Even if you are only able to reach a few groups or individuals, think of all the people they may contact if you get them excited to be involved. Be sure to include your fantasy groups and figure out how you can connect with them. Who on your organization's resource map might already be talking with them or have an idea on how to get them involved? Who within your organization is willing to contact them and make that connection?
8. Now, stand back from your resource map and notice which groups have the most lines connecting them to other groups. These groups are key to your organization and are easy to inform.
9. Next, start reaching out. See who is willing to tap their own personal resources and who is willing to make new connections. Ask the resources you have if they have any ideas on who else might be good to have involved. When you get right down to it, the resource possibilities that your organization has could be endless!
10. Finally, revisit and revise your network as needed. You may want tailor your network to what you are trying to accomplish. Different times call for different measures.