November 7, 2010


Posted in A Bigger Picture, Managers Matter, Professionalism at 4:22 am by Sue Hine

A long time ago I watched my grandmother tatting lacy doilies and place-mats.  She used a small shuttle that wove in and out of her fingers with the speed and dexterity of much practice. It was a domestic craft I never accomplished, though it seems there is a global revival movement in progress.

Like knitting, embroidery, weaving and tapestry, tatting is an art that takes a thread to create something else, something larger and more complex than the original material.

So it is with ‘networking’, a word much favoured these days.  ‘Networking’ crops up in many different contexts.  Telecommunications is a big one – all that electronic interconnection, and the sub-systems of multi-media transmission and reception accomplished through Broadband.  And we can’t get enough of it.  ‘Networking’ is also a favourite tool for the public relations industry, and aspiring politicos and business executives.

‘Networking’ is high on the list of must-do’s for managers of volunteers.  Here are a few examples of the advantages of making connections and interacting with other managers and organisations:

  • In a meeting of trust and confidentiality you can let off a bit of steam
  • Sharing experiences and concerns is also a forum for learning more about the art of managing volunteers
  • Take this a step further and you can form a group for peer mentoring or professional supervision
  • The business of being creative and innovative as a manager of volunteers demands a community development approach, and you cannot do this without being involved and closely connected with your local community.
  • Networking is a two-way street – there are mutual benefits for your organisation and your community, like in recruiting volunteers, learning about trends, finding new opportunities for development.
  • And when you sign up to newsletters, email groups, blogs or face-book you are getting linked with the wider world, connecting with a global community as well as an information highway.

Last Friday there was a flurry of lace-making, locally and globally.  The International Day for Managers of Volunteers brought people together in small-town communities and clusters in the cities.  Supporting messages from politicians and civic dignitaries were published.  Events were recorded on a global website (, and a face-book page introduced regular updates and encouragement.

What we produced on this day was a classic piece of tatting, the whorls of delicate circles, linked with each other.

 There are connections within connections.  There are nuclei that spread to connect with others, a bit like the biochemistry of the central nervous system, stimuli that spark off each other.  So the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

 IMV Day can be an annual one-day wonder, or it can be the start of something that pushes Management of Volunteers into a work of art, for volunteers and for their organisations.  All it takes is a thread or two and the connections can last a lifetime, like my grandmother’s lacy doilies.

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