While initiating a health promotion project, you will notice that the networking activities could change and move through different stages and purposes. Depending on your prior connections with the community, the scale of your project idea or the size of your community, these stages could have different lengths and characters. They often spontaneously grow from one phase to another.
At the beginning, your networking activities may be in the form of informal chats with people to find out important information about your community. It is more about listening and learning about who the key players are and what could be done to promote health in the community. This activity could be called “exploratory networking”. It can happen practically anywhere: at the official meetings or during the gatherings in a local coffee shop.
These informal chats may inspire you to go forward and get engaged in more formal conversations with individuals and organizations in order to build trust and strengthen relationships. This type of activity could be called “purposeful networking”. If you are a person who is already well connected and engaged in the community, it will be easy for you to get engaged in “opportunistic networking”.
Opportunistic networking simply means on-going openness to existing opportunities (personal connections, projects, organizations) in the community to gather necessary information and create partnerships around health promotion ideas.
“The fact that I was an outsider in the community meant that I had to work harder.” – DIANNE GILLESPIE
“The awareness of changes in economic and political environment makes a difference in how you create contacts with the key players in the community.” – FLORENCE SENECAL
“With health promotion, it is looking at things in the community that aren’t ordinarily looked at in health. “ – MOLLY HANSON-NAGEL
“I took a different approach: I used initiatives instead of talking about health promotion.” – MARGO FAUCHON
“It took a good twelve months to build trust of the key players in the community.” – DIANNE GILLESPIE
“At the very beginning, it was very broad based. I started with the St. Paul phone book.” – MARGO FAUCHON
“I used my existing contacts to develop new connections with the key players.” – MOLLY HANSON-NAGEL