The causes we care about are wrestling with how to better network their efforts: climate, democracy, justice and public health to name a few. The networking challenge is a serious stumbling block for many, if not most, complex social causes. There are people building networks throughout key social movements. They need help. They need access to network-building experience. They need a clear framework to unlock ways to approach network building.

Over the past decade, networks have gained popularity as one solution for making change. Yet in addressing large and complex problems, networks may overlook key components necessary for impact.

This guide seeks to provide clarity and precision to network managers and staff around the day-to-day operations of effective networks. It is meant to be applicable regardless of a network’s issue focus, membership composition, size, scale, or intended influence.

The guide first delves into the definition of a network and the basic elements that make networks function. Then, we discuss how to put these basic elements into practice, ensuring there is clear value and infrastructure in the network, and that the people leading the network have the skills and tools needed to be effective.

The information presented in this guide is based on lessons learned from reviews of investments in programs with network components, a review of networks we worked with, discussions with partners and those we serve, lessons learned from Netcentric Campaigns’ experience[1], and a review of existing literature in the field (See bibliography).

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💡 The best way to use this Field Guide for Network Managers is to join the training program that accompanies it. Netcentric Campaigns organizes and supports online training, skill-building, and an online community focused on mobilizing networks of people to drive social change.

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