Social Transformation Network

For all Professionals Committed to
 Social Transformation

Social Networks and Social Transformation

Potential and Need

"The key to ending poverty is to create a global network of connections that reach from impoverished communities to the very centers of world power and wealth and back again." 
    Jeffrey Sachs, UN Millennium Development Goals Advisor, in The End of Poverty

Networks of trusted personal connections are key to taking on the big challenges involved with social transformation.    Trusted personal connections, the currency of social capital, are essential whenever funding, expertise, and other kinds of high-value committments are required, and especially so when contributors, experts, local social entrepreneurs, and recipients are in multiple countries.  

But why do we need to create these trusted networks?  Don’t they already exist?  For example, take the case of almost any civil sector organization (also referred to as an “NGO”) or any foundation funding social transformation.   Its networks  generally look like this:

Civil Sector Org Network

Every such organization has networks like this, and the personal networks of people in interrelated organizations overlap intensely, both within and across national borders.   But if you zoom into any single person’s personal network, the view of this person’s network looks more like this:

Personal Network

That is, any single individual or organization is aware of only a small fraction of the entire network.  This is true even for  the most connected people and organizations in the network.  In contrast, the network of a large organization  actually looks more like this:

Org network - social network map by Valdis Krebs, orgnet.com

The trusted network (counting only personally trusted connections) of even a relatively small organization can easily number in the hundreds of thousands of people extending out two degrees from the core members of the network (including their trusted contacts and the trusted contacts of those contacts), and millions of people out just three degrees.    Now consider how much more immense is the actual size of the trusted network of a truly large foundation or civil society organization.    Currently, using traditional means and tools, managing and accessing such immense networks is clearly impossible.   So it's no exageration to note that, even though a global trusted network already exists, we are tapping only a tiny fraction of the potential value of that network.  

In order to access more of the value of these networks it is necessary to make use of 
 sophisticated relationship databases and social network search engines that can not only locate needed expertise and influence, but also reveal trusted connections who can supply the intelligence, introductions, and influence needed to close the loop -- while at the same time giving each participating individual and organization the control they need over their profiles, personal networks, and other data.   

Here we are presenting a way to create a Social Transformation Network to make the already existing networks of trust more accessible and usable, which will in turn facilitate more  timely and
accurately matched new trusted connections to emerge.

Benefits of Participation

What kinds of extra value could be created by making even a marginal extra percent of this enormous network more accessible to network members?  . This remains to be seen, and learning this together will be one of the benefits of participating.    

However, here are two brief examples of how this network will benefit individual participants and their organizations:

First example:   You’re a social entrepreneur looking for funding from a foundation.   You can do your research and find the funding source you think looks like the best fit and send them a business plan or proposal – and join a very long line of others doing the same.    Or, you can also search your personal and organizational professional networks and find who can personally give you the inside story on which funding sources to approach and who can also personally introduce you to a key person in the organization who trusts their judgment.  

Second example:  You need to hire a new executive or key staff person and the supply of truly great talent is tight.   You can post the job, do the interviews and check references, and hope.   Or, you can also alert your professional network of the job and have those people forward the job to their networks.   Once you’ve found someone, you can also quickly find who in your trusted network has a connection to your candidate in order to get an honest and confidential appraisal. 

Other generic examples of benefits are described here.  

These are all simple examples that reflect continual needs of all organizations.  These needs are often being met now, including through traditional means of making use of personal networks.   So this sometimes make it a little more difficult to get the point across as to what the difference would be.  In some cases, the difference is a matter of success or failure - making and wnning a critical connection or not.  In other cases the difference is a matter of reducing time -- on many people's parts -- and achieving a more accurate fit, by having a better selection than one could come up with otherwise, by getting better introductions - based on mutual trust -- and by getting access to better intelligence and influence.

The purpose of the Social Transformation Network is to make the global “network of networks” more accessible and useful, and to enable it to grow to the mutual benefit of the people and organizations involved.

Developing the Network

In order to succeed, the Social Transformation Network will make use of the already existing global LinkedIn professional network, and a Learning and Development program to insure that participating organizations and individuals are able to most successfully use the tools, connections, and other advantages of the network.  

LinkedIn provides free access to its basic platform, tools, and an existing network of over 18,000,000 professionals.   It is picked as a starting point because it is by far the largest Web-enabled social network for professionals, and the one that best enables searching and finding expertise, influence, and introductions within extended trusted networks.

To insure success, the Learning and Development program provides training, coaching, and facilitation to insure that we learn together how to actually make use of and improve our networks.

Demonstration Project

As a first step, we are inviting selected organizations to participate in a short-term Demonstration Project.   Please learn more about this project and how you can apply for consideration here.