What tools and for what purpose? (depending on the network's evolution)

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : There are many tools for networking, collaborative tools many of which are available with free software. They offer very open fields of application, but sometimes it is difficult to find one's way in this jungle of tools and functions.

A Network's Life

The creation of networks: 5 basic steps

image Etapes réseau

These steps occur simultaneously. They guide the way for new arrivals.

Tools for each of a network's life stages

**Process** **Function** **"Small arrows"** **Preferred tools**
Creation Creation of the network's identity Grouping the arrows of the same colour General discussion list and dynamic mapping of the network members
Information Exchanging information between network members Grouping the arrows pointing in the same direction Themed discussion lists, forums, news
Transformation Establishing collective projects Surfacing of the projects' "big arrows" Workshops and tools to support projects
Outreach Interaction with the surroundings The action of project arrows on other surrounding arrows Disseminating data on a website (using CMS: dynamic content integration)
Consolidation Opening and following the dynamic Permeability (dashes) to new members and conservation of internal dynamics (spiral) Onboarding, classing information, presence of a history

Creation of a network

This first stage is about giving visibility to the sense of belonging to the network. It is important that each new actor is immediately made visible, for his or her sake (existing in the network and being recognized within) and for that of others.
The essential tools for this first stage go through a round of presentations in a face-to-face meeting.

Description: tools to conduct on-line surveys. Some process replies statistically (graphs, percentages).
Google Forms

Network information

Saying “I am part of a network” is not enough to be a stakeholder; it is also necessary to say what we are passionate about, what we expect to do in the network, and with whom we would like to do this. For this, the network's members must be able to exchange information effectively, talk to one another, create groups based on shared interests and give visibility to the topics of discussion that could then lead to future projects.

Discussion and distribution lists, forum

Social networks:

Network transformation

This stage -which is actually an ongoing process- is identified at the start, when projects are created and set up. It is really a transformation at the heart of the network, since it starts creating an organisation and starts to be operational through its projects.

The necessary tools for this stage are those that allow working together on projects, and are a whole array of collaborative tools to share documents and information, co-write, exchange, synchronise and think together.

Document sharing:
D Manager


On-line office suits:
Google documents

Google Calendar
Php I calendar

Mind maps:


Social bookmarking:

Network outreach

Now the network has visibility through the projects it hosts and facilitates and interacts with its environment.
This interaction can happen at different levels: interaction with the public within the projects' frameworks, interaction with institutional partners that support and encourage projects, interaction with other networks to exchange or transfer skills and experiences…

CMS : content management system

Rss :

Network consolidation

This stage aims at ensuring that, even if the network has survived the 4 first stages with some of its members, it is open to new members.
At this stage, tools are more methodological (the network history, charter, guides for new members, manuals on how to participate...).

However, there are some tools that help visualising the activity of a network with a lot of content more easily.

Tag clouds:

Illustration credits under Creative Commons licence: by - Outils-Réseaux