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The “network weaver” is a kind of matchmaker, working to increase the number and strength of relationships between participants in the network by helping people find connection and common ground with one another, gradually building up trust and an overall sense of community. This role often also includes bringing new participants into the network when the opportunity arises and making sure all the right voices are at the table.
To play or not to play: Given their breadth and depth of relationships, funders can be particularly well-suited to the network weaver role. In many ways, this is a natural extension of the role that many program officers already play, acting as a neutral intermediary to connect individuals and organizations across the fields they work in. The important balance to strike is between seeing the potential for participation while not forcing it, since the request of a funder carries enough weight that it can keep someone at the table for far longer than they see the value in participating.