What is network weaving?

“Weaving is the intentional practice of helping people to build and connect to more relationships of trust and value, by virtue of being genuinely interested in building and connecting oneself to more relationships of trust and value.” – Bill Traynor (The Essence of Weaving. 2010)

Network weavers do a range of activities focused on making connections in order to strengthen existing ties, bring new people into the network, and bridge divides. For example, they learn about the interests and needs of individuals and groups in the network and look for opportunities to connect needs and haves. They codify and share information and knowledge with the network so that information flows freely throughout the network and participants can begin to connect with one another directly. They build capacity in others to weave the network so that making connections becomes a shared and distributed responsibility. And they keep the network vibrant by bringing in and linking to new ideas and resources from the outside.

What are the challenges associated with network weaving?

Network weavers often face these challenges:
  • Communicating what “network weaving” is, what their roles and responsibilities are, and what success looks like for their work
  • Dealing with the isolated nature of the network-weaving role
  • Getting alignment on metrics to measure the progress of network weaving work
  • Making connections they facilitate among network members stick

What are the models for supporting network weaving?

There are a number of different ways funders can invest in network weaving
Model
Examples
Hire / fund a weaver(s) from inside the network
Boston Afterschool Network
Hire/fund a weaver(s) from outside the network (consultants)
Network of Network Funders & Monitor Institute
Funder as network weaver
Lumpkin Foundation & goodWORKSconnect
Organization as network weaver
South Africa Partners & Boston World Cup

What considerations should funders keep in mind when supporting network weaving and acting as weavers themselves?

  • What kind of support systems are in place for the network weaver (e.g., advisory committee or peer groups)?
  • Where is the weaver housed?
  • What is the weaver’s relationship to the foundation (e.g., independent vs. a neutral organization)?
  • How does the weaver frame his/her job and affiliation? Should he or she refer to their title as “network weaver” or use more commonly understood terms (e.g., coordinator)?
  • How does the weaver think about his/her impact/performance indicators?