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Business of the Network

Business of the Network is a way to have a focused 20-minute conversation on topics that are current and relevant to the group or network.

Anyone can host a conversation to hear different perspectives, experiences and to receive support with an issue or opportunity they are facing. Examples include:

  • How can I help my mother transition smoothly into an assisted living facility?
  • My neighborhood has had a series of break-ins lately and I’m feeling helpless. What have you done in your neighborhood to improve safety?
  • I have a dream of starting a community garden and engaging youth in the process. How do I get a plot of land from the city and start a garden?

“During the conversation, the question was in charge, not the host. It was really helpful to have the question ground the conversation and especially to have the question written out.” ~ Rachel N.

Why do it? 

It’s a way to share power in community gatherings by withholding the urge to set the agenda without input from the group. It’s also a great way to infuse a meeting with structured dialogue that is time limited and, therefore, must be succinct. Also, because multiple conversations are happening simultaneously, participants get to choose a conversation and do not have to sit through a conversation that does not interest them.

How does it work? 

  1. A Business of the Network leader asks people in the room if they would like to host a conversation.
  2. If you want to host a conversation, simply raise your hand and state your question to the group. Open-ended and specific questions are best. And remember: if you want to host a conversation, come ready to listen, not to present to the group.
  3. A Business of the Network scribe writes down each conversation topic on a separate piece of paper. Hosts take those papers to their conversation location later so everyone knows what the conversation topic will be.
  4. Once two to six folks have suggested conversations, we break into groups and move to different areas to talk.

Conversation Tips

Here are a few things we’ve learned that make for great Business of the Network conversations:

  • Sit in a circle
  • Quickly go around and share name and neighborhood
  • The host briefly restates the question at the beginning of the conversation
  • Lean into the circle to show you are engaged in the conversation
  • And share the air: If you’ve already spoken once and have another idea to share, hold onto it until someone who hasn’t spoken yet shares an idea.

What’s needed? 

Large paper to write the topics on.

Smaller note paper for people to record notes and key points about the conversation.

Questions about Business of the Network? 

Contact Indigo at 216-361-9149 or ibishop@neighborhoodgrants.org.


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