NETWORKING: TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES

Techniques and tools adopted in networking activities are partially overlapped with those adopted in science communication and in public engagement activities. However, the main objective of networking practice is different: not simply communicating scientific contents or engaging stakeholders in science-related issues, but creating, maintaining and expanding a network of relationships with other organisations in different domains and fields, creating new collaborative space which both the social engagement (SE) of the research organisations and the engagement of public and stakeholders with science (PE) can benefit of.

Some tools and techniques that can be applied in networking activities are reported below:

  • Regular communication. Creating a mailing list of institutions and individuals allows to keep stakeholders and partners informed about PE/SE initiatives carried out by the institution. Regular institutional communication (e.g. newsletter) help maintaining links with potential or actual partners.
  • Printed and audio-visual materials. Producing materials to be physically or virtually circulated is useful to rapidly inform about aims and activities of the organisation related to PE/SE .
  • Institutional networks. Joining or creating networks may be particularly effective in favouring the development of new PE/SE initiatives involving societal players. These networks can be of different nature, including business networks, local community networks, health networks, artistic networks, educational networks, and the like.
  • Networking events. They may include public meetings, awards, lunch and dinner galas, lecturers, and the like. They help move forward with collaborative partnerships and the establishment of new ones.
  • Internet-Based Social Networking/Virtual Communities. There are many networking web-based tools and techniques developed in the last years. They include e.g., specific websites, online collaborative and discussion groups, blogs, social networking sites, webinars (i.e. web-based seminars), online volunteer recruitment sites, chat-rooms, e-newsletters and magazines.
  • Partnership agreements. Formal partnership agreement linking the research organisation with societal organisations and stakeholders are particularly helpful in favouring the embedment of PE in some societal spheres and committing research organisations with SE.

Sources: