Appreciating the Value of Our Expertise Network

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November 08, 2016

Appreciating the Value of Our Expertise Network

Discussing shared experiences is a cornerstone of our Annual Conference.

By Tom Dente

President and CEO InsideNGO

InsideNGO began almost 40 years ago as experts supporting fellow experts with ideas, solutions, and the means to explore new and emerging issues.

With the changes we are all addressing in our sector and within our organizations, the need for accessible and relevant operational expertise has only grown. A few years ago, the Monitor Institute and the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations published a paper on Catalyzing Networks for Social Change which highlighted five different approaches for creating vibrant expertise networks: weave social ties; access new and diverse perspectives; openly build and share knowledge; create infrastructure for widespread engagement; and finally, coordinate resources for action. Over the years, we have increasingly put each of these approaches in place as our community has grown.

InsideNGO offers many opportunities to engage in our expertise network. From advisory councils and steering committees to senior leader forums and expert roundtables, sharing mutual experiences and insights with peers is integral to the value of InsideNGO. In addition, having members share issues and solutions via our members-only online community deepens our global expertise. Finally, at every learning event—from the cohorts that emerge at workshops around the world, to conversations at the annual conference and regional meetings—sharing practical applications of learning expertise is part of full experience.

As InsideNGO, we need to continue to make this depth of organizational and operational expertise accessible and applicable to your issues and opportunities. One way that we do this is through our InsideNGO Industry Partners program. We are always looking for additional ways to better support our collective "network mindset," to use the words of the Monitor Institute report. This mindset involves both awareness and participation: "Working with a network mindset means operating with an awareness of the webs of relationships you are embedded in…[and]…also means finding where the conversations are happening and taking part in them."

I was speaking with a long-standing member over the summer who shared that he still kept an APVOFM (InsideNGO’s predecessor organization) folder on his email and used it to preserve the older email exchanges he had had with fellow practitioners across our community. In fact, he showed me this folder on his iPhone and indicated that it was one of his oldest folders that he has maintained. This was his "portable network of expertise." I’m sure we all have different versions of how we track the relationships and conversations at InsideNGO that bring us value in our day-to-day work.

We have more work to do here, but we are excited to extend and deepen the relationships that you have through InsideNGO and provide even more opportunities to share your perspectives with your peers globally. Your many contributions—sharing your insights and experiences at our annual conference, roundtables, forums, symposia, and in-person and online discussions—build our collective expertise and make us all stronger. On behalf of the many you benefit in our community—thank you.

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