Diplomacy, a critical network weaver competency


How important is it to be fungible?  To be flexible, versatile, polite, respectful, tactful, yet eager?  If each skill required for our diplomacy skills, what would our flower garden look like?

It’s important that a network weaver is able to multi task, have a customer service orientation and have emotional intelligence.  You need someone that can assess their performance, be honest, be trustworthy and has the ability to accept and respond to criticism. 

Today I facilitated a panel discussion on Communities & Social Media and was reminded of the importance of ensuring that I was involving everyone on the conference call through eliciting their comments.  Not only did I need to lead the on-line technology, such as the monitoring of the chat room, or the flow of the slide deck, but also I needed to listen to voices, names, perspectives, inflections and remember organizational context in order to try to pull them into a deeper conversation and connection place.    Then I facilitated a fireside chat on the book, Digital Habitats with John Smith, Etienne Wenger, and Nancy White around technology stewardship and communities.  What we realized was critical in the success of this discussion was the role of a facilitator like me, who actually knew each person in the conversation and could help them articulate their own questions when it may not have happened naturally at the required speed for such a quick conversation.

Community weavers must to be organized, have an eye for detail, and be tireless with follow-up.  They need to be able to quickly think through the best way to create a high trust and high value for time environment through using an arsenal of techniques.  As it turns out marketing and communication skills are instrumental in how network weavers structure abundant conversations and immersions through meaning.  Yet, for many it may come as a surprise, but skills in human relations and diplomacy are paramount in communities, especially edgier websites with crowd sourced message boards with anonymous postings.  Mediation, conflict management and diversity of thought become important competencies because like human nature, internet civility can be volatile and unpredictable. 

Diplomacy is required for community managers in order to encourage different perspectives and bring different perspectives in the periphery, while using dissention as a way to foster engagement.

Transparency in Communities – One Size Does NOT Fit All

Today I reviewed in Wikipedia all the different forms of transparency and started to wonder about this notion and how it can apply to some Communities, but not others? 

As community builders, we understand the importance of honoring each relationship.  I work with several large high trust communities where our membership has different areas of interest, focus and passion.  At Executive Networks I choose to honor each individual conversation and only share content when the author has agreed to share it in a public community garden/space.  Therefore, I’m left wondering if this would be considered “lacking transparency”.    Yes, it would, as it involves individual judgment as Community Connector in the network.  In this specific example, I’m playing the role of a human Google search appliance.  I look for opportunities to invite individual members to connect with each other based on what I know, sense and hear – but I allow them to be the judge and determine if they want to share their ‘warts’ or their experiences, practices and programs with others in a more public space.  After all, individuals need to ‘stand for’ something and only they can determine ‘what’ they want to ‘stand for’ in terms of their on line persona or otherwise.  I’m just brokering a conversation, a possibility and a new consideration.

Thanks to Jessica for inspiring me to post a few thoughts today.

Community Composers are “IN”

Several people have DMed me about my Twitter bio lately, what do you do?  For example, “I like your Twitter bio [Community Composer & Strategist] … especially the “composer” part… what do you do?  Here was another question:  “Community Composer”.  Intriguing.  What is that exactly “

Recently I had the opportunity to experience, Raphael’s “Woman with the Veil” and it occurred to me that I’m a composer, an innovator and an architect. We are individuals that ‘put together’ as the Latin word suggests, us weavers, we have an inert sense we have acquired over the years that allows us to see connections and we broker them, whether it’s a doctor that specializes in a particular area, or an Executive leading a strategic executive program, we are looking for openings and the right time that we can deliver high value for their time through that linking, bridging and connecting.   

We spend our days thinking about personal motivations, interpretation, context and leadership.  Weavers sleep, dream, consume and compose in the Loom Factory.  We spend our time helping others create inspiring and nourishing places of high value and high trust.  We work with colleagues, customers, prospects, coaches and clients in order to setup interactions that foster new possibilities.  We have profound abilities and success in community weaving and are admired, but don’t spend time to share our stories, as we are too ambitious and productive.  Intellectualism and social skills are also critical characteristics that weavers possess.

As community weavers, we have to adapt and assimilate our styles depending on the community we are weaving within, across or amongst.  We compose new styles and innovations along the way.  We are creating community footprints, social memories, stories and art – it is similar to writing music, it just happens to be in the form of a community.

What does it take to be a master community weaver?

The composition of the community as it turns out is really important – you need more than just a modern infrastructure of tools and a great product or service – you need the right people, committed to the overall goal of the community who are willing to look at the conversation, the content, the focus and partner and lead to allow it to flourish, grow, etc.  What I mean is that you need special people with the secret sauce.  Yes, that is correct – it’s not every ordinary day person that can be a community convener.  You need professionally trained community builders who understand the fine balance between driving business results and honoring individual motivation and needs.  This is the tight rope that is often very hard to balance.

This idea of developing, nurturing and cultivating communities work described by Etienne Wenger, Bill Snyder and Richard McDermott  in the “Cultivating Communities” book is an excellent framework to consider.    But what I’ve found when composing communities is that there is a great need for talent in what I call the “loom factory’, as you need to quickly hire master weavers to the team.  Sounds easy right, well these people aren’t so easy to find.  You need people who ‘give, give and give more’ according to Mike Dulworth, author of the Connect Effect ’.  These people are great listeners who with ease and grace can welcome new community members, while educating, informing, sharing, encouraging and can invite new community members.  For existing members they need to be able to facilitate online systems and tools, while challenge being able to facilitate in person workshops and challenge community members all at the same time. 

The talent we look for as community composers are these individuals that are natural weavers of knowledge.  They share outwards and bridge, they are social artists that can listen for and see new possibilities while understanding each community members’ personal needs and motivations. They live in a variety of digital habitats and have strong verbal and written communication competencies, as well as leadership, drive and passion.  They are workhorses who strive to allow community members to accomplish goals or solve customer problems.  They are generative in nature and have emotional intelligence.  Master weavers bring people into to a new, warm inviting place – into a community of high value.