Who makes social rules

The golden rules of networking

by Prof. Dr. Ulrich Deller, Head of Cooperation Management KatHO NRW Aachen

Networking is in, everyone is doing it. Some are quite successful at this, others less so. “Working in a network” is the big magic word, not least in social work. Networks are identified or formed for clients, institutions join together to form networks, work in a network, and refer to their well-functioning network. But how does good networking actually work? Does it just happen to depend on the actors involved, with whom the chemistry is just right? Can networks be controlled successfully? And is it even possible to learn how to manage networks? Just as the market stands for the logic of competition and the hierarchy for the logic of authority and obedience, the logic of exchange and negotiation applies to the network. Three aspects are important for the evaluation of a network: control, profit and influence. Even small networks offer countless possibilities for connections: theoretically, there can be more than 5000 different connections with only ten participants. The more partners belong to the network, the less influence one can exert and the lower the influence of the network. Making a profit is the point of a network. Only then are the partners ready to make their contribution to mastering the joint task. A network is always about power and influence. It should succeed in convincing others of the importance of a work area. To exert influence is the goal and instrument of the network. Building a network takes time. Nobody knows everything, very few know a lot, but everyone should be able to act safely. Therefore, a network should begin as carefully as possible, be planned consistently and be constantly monitored. There are a few golden rules that apply to a good network. Perhaps the most important and simplest rule with which the cooperation of the partners can be controlled is that of “tit for tat” or “like you me so I you”. Because competitive signals are also answered competitively. With their attentive reaction, the partners show that they are keeping a close eye on what's going on: Cooperation signals are responded to in a cooperative manner, and competitors are responded to. Uncooperative behavior shouldn't pay off. A sensible strategy is needed to counter a spiral of competitive interactions. This is the only way to ensure that working together brings benefits for all parties. A second golden rule is to look ahead and back. Cooperations should be designed for the future. The longer-term a cooperation is intended, the more it will pay off. I treat someone who I meet every four weeks from now on differently than if I only see them once. It is therefore of not inconsiderable importance that one pauses again and again in order to appreciate the achievements of individuals and to “celebrate” cooperative actions, successes and important milestones. The third golden rule of networking is the culture in dealing with one another. The partners cannot control it automatically, they need opportunities to learn this culture. Practicing the network culture takes time. Starting in September 2015, the Catholic University of North Rhine-Westphalia in Aachen will be offering the part-time master’s course “Cooperation Management - Management in Multiprofessional Social and Health Services M.A.”. The course is aimed at professional specialists who are already active in the health and social sector. A college or university degree is required. The degree “Master of Arts in Interprofessional Health and Community Care M.A.” opens up access to higher service (A13) and the possibility of a doctorate. The application deadline for the course from September 2015 to 2017 is the end of June 2015. Information on the course can be found here www.kooperationsmanagement-aachen.de

Source: Information from the Catholic University of North Rhine-Westphalia from April 1, 2015