People-to-people networking (PtPN) is, by nature, collaborative. It requires personal interaction allowing for better use of resources and new ideas to emerge.
When the local public library have established relationships with groups providing activities and services to the community, and the local government has establish a work-group management style with its departments, the time may be right to create communication pathways between the two.
In a sense, there are two kinds of collaborative networking proposed: PtPN “plain” and PtPN “plus.” In the plain version, the GDN and the LNN have separate work-group functions: 1) The local public library interacts with organizations to create a directory listing of services available to the community and to bring nonprofits together in work-group sessions, and 2) the local government creates a work-group consisting of representatives from various departments. From these, personal relationships can be made and reinforced, resulting in improved communication and better decisions.
In PtPN plus, representatives from each – the public library and local government work-groups – are invited to attend the other group. For example, the local public library could invite government department representatives to the library for a work-group meeting attended by nonprofits engaged in discussions concerning services to children or the elderly. Similarly, local governments, which regularly deal with a range of issues, like child and elderly services, could invite experienced people who work at local nonprofits to attend a government meeting.
The point is that representatives from each, LNN and GDN, can have inter-group working relationships, effectively connecting one network with the other. There is no way to predict the results of such cross-contributions, but it’s possible to see how there could be ways in which input from one group can contribute to the other.
A nonprofit organization that addresses the health issues of the elderly may be able to exchange useful information with the local emergency medical services. Local governments manage a lot of resources, some of which touch on various areas of nonprofit service like healthcare and cultural activities. A local recreation department might hold a job training workshop and solicit help from a career-focused nonprofit. A family assistance program might offer some advice to a local police department regarding how to handle family problems when they get out of control.
When PtPN connection pathways are made, human relationships can take on a life of their own, separate from whatever network structure you may have participated in. In a sense, relationships become their own networks because people can respond outside of the existing structure and make their own connections. New issues may surface: Someone tells someone what happened, and that person now sees a relationship they previously missed.
This is the way normal life moves – people, in conversation with other people – but none of this happens unless the initial network structures are created.