Social network analysis reveals the nodes and their connections. Yes. “The nodes in the network are the people and groups while the links show relationships or flows between the nodes.” Great. What about the things that support the nodes and their ability to make connections. This is the field of the network, and it functions as an energetic even magnetic space that impacts the network in profound ways. We are defined not only by the positive space of our presence and the relationships we bear to each other, but also the space between us, the “negative space” referred to in art class.
If you want to change the configuration of the social network map, changing behavior is one avenue, but it is often difficult to encourage and enforce. Another option is to change the environment. It can be easier, perhaps, to find levers for change in this layer.
So when I talk about field-building, I am talking about that space–the environment of the network. Created by convening events, participating in dialogs, creating avenues to disperse messages, refining the language and frames of the network and its purpose.