Purpose of Networks

An important question to ask when beginning to think about setting up a network is “What will the network primarily be designed to do?” It might be about building a community and focused on relationships and connections. It may be about identifying and disseminating information, spreading new ideas or increasing numbers of participants.

It is likely that most networks will perform all of these functions at various stages of development. It can be helpful to understand what the main function is at any given time and what it might be in the future.

There are generally six discrete functions of networks:

  • Community building
  • Filtering
  • Amplifying
  • Facilitating
  • Investing/providing
  • Convening

Adapted from Effective Networks for Improvement (citing Malby B, Mervyn K)

It is likely that most networks will perform most of these functions and do more than one at any time. Working with the network to identify its primary functions both now and in the future will be helpful.