Lessons from the NRNs
Effective stakeholder engagement
To be successful, networking activity must engage with the stakeholders involved in that network. Effective engagement enables the network to deliver both broad and targeted information and support when and where it is most needed. There are many examples of differing techniques to engage with all, or identified groups of stakeholders. Nearly all NRNs utilise communication tools such as websites and newsletters and many have also implemented innovative approaches, particularly when attempting to engage with harder-to-reach groups.
The Finnish NRN targeted engagement with young people through a touring ‘Rural Van’ [PDF], which disseminated information and encouraged young people to take part in local activities and action groups, and to make use of the business and project funding available. In the Netherlands, the NRN works with municipal aldermen to engage ‘communities of practice’ through the facilitation of problem-solving discussion sessions.
For more examples of the range of methods and techniques used by NRNs to involve existing and potential stakeholder groups, see the case studies below and the relevant experiences here.
Case Study: Effective engagement of women in local development - Poland
The regional NSU of Wielkopolskie Voivodship recognised that an increasing number of women were acting as the catalyst for development activity in rural areas, and so identified them as a key stakeholder group. This led to the development of the ‘School for Women Leaders’, an initiative to effectively engage women in rural areas, provide support to improve their professional skills, and increase their ability to achieve positive outcomes in their communities.
The project consisted of two training modules, the first of which was devoted to local animation techniques, covering issues such as the recognition of local community resources. The second module focused on establishing NGOs in rural areas, and also provided an opportunity to meet women who run successful NGO activities in other areas. Seminars for groups of 20 people were also held, during which the group performed common tasks, solved problems, got to know one another and learned how to understand others and ask questions.
Training participants exchanged information, with many new contacts made and ideas for joint projects developed. A support group with a tutor from each of the four participating LAG’s of Association Puszcza Notecka, LAG Association Wrota Wielkopolski, LAG Association Solna Dolina and Czarnkowsko-Trzcianecka LAG was also created, with LAG offices becoming contact hubs for rural women. Other LAGs expressed a need for similar training and a willingness to deepen and expand the knowledge and skills developed within this project, so during 2011 and 2012 the NSU continued the project with the remaining 27 LAGs in the region. The project has been so successful that the regional secretariat has recently launched a competition to give awards to the best activities developed by participants as a result of attending the training course.