After this, we discussed in smaller groups on the basis of various questions. How are we using networks in our work for humanitarian aid? How could we leverage them more? What are the pitfalls? And what are our personal network strategies? In my group, I noticed that not everyone is convinced that you can learn how to network. I don't consider myself a natural networker, but I've learn to network professionally. An interesting case was shared of a coordination meeting between humanitarian aid organisations that continues for years, and doesn't not seem to yield much value to the participants in terms of learning and innovation. Ofcourse, coordination is necessary, but it would be an interesting challenge to see how we could make more of those routine/boring gatherings that all participants see as an obligation.
Afterwards I had nice discussions with the leading committee of the alumni association. Their biggest challenge is to foster ties between the different years and to focus on the practice when members are working at many different levels, varying from field to policy level. Miguel from Spain raised the cultural differences at national level. Cultures (at national but also organisational levels) differ in their inclination towards professional networks and associations and the types of networks you invest in. In Spain for instance, the kinship networks (families) are very important and people invest quite some time in those. In the Netherlands, associations thrive and it is common to take up a voluntary position.