Networking…it starts with a single conversation

Guest Post by Shannon Cavallari, PATH, and Erica DePiero, IRC

The above conversation was the catalyst for a fantastic learning and networking session with our fellow LINGOs members.  We chose to hold the meeting on Friday, January 14, 2011 which preceded Martin Luther King weekend.   Hosted at International Relief Committee (IRC) in New York, the session lasted six hours, included eight representatives from four different states and five LINGOs agencies.   The purpose of the meeting was to learn more about what our peers were doing so that we may support each other better in the future. 

Through email, we brainstormed ideas for topics of discussion and agreed upon a loose agenda:

  • What does CRS currently do for on-boarding?  What is being revamped?  Why is it being changed?  What worked/what didn’t?
  • Management/supervisory course programs/certificates

o   Justin is probably the furthest along on this topic – perhaps he can lead this discussion.

o   Topic is on Shannon’s work-plan. 

o   Topic is part of CRS’s strategy.

  • Succession planning – CRS is starting work here.  Anybody else?
  • Leadership Development programs – what has worked?  What hasn’t? 
  • Exchange programs/Developmental assignments – does anyone have/manage a formal system for this? 
  • Share work-plans – what are your big ticket items for this year?

 We discussed each of these topics, allowing conversations to naturally flow and progress.  As topics evolved, we also found ourselves discussing online Performance Management Systems and pay for performance.  “I really valued discussing the approach that IRC is taking to provide a rich on-boarding experience for all staff globally,” said Justin Birtwell from Save the Children US. “IRC has created an effective relationship between its global service and the field that needs the service.  The on-boarding toolkits for each new employee must make a professional impression – it did on me!”

There was much laughter, sharing of resources, processes, and ideas.  On more than one occasion, we brainstormed ideas to challenges that one of us were facing.  “I appreciated strengthening the relationships.  Justin and I have been on many of the same LinkedIn discussion threads, but we have never had the opportunity to meet in person,” said Shannon Cavallari from PATH.   “I was also delighted to find someone who is excited about the techie part of eLearning design (Tony Jirapokakul) and I am excited to work with him in April.”

Back L to R: Erica DePiero, IRC; Tony Jirapokakul, IRC; Justin Birtwell, Save the Children US; Shannon Cavallari, PATH.

Front: Adriana Noll, CRS; Marie McNamee, InsideNGO; Kiersten Clark, Save the Children US; Kelli Tubman, CRS.


Networking with your fellow LINGOs members shouldn’t be reserved for the annual fall meeting.  Email, Skype, LinkedIn, Virtual Coffee’s and scheduled face-to-face time can be invaluable.  Another face-to-face networking opportunity will take place on Friday, April 8th at IRC in NY.  If you are interested in attending, please contact Erica DePiero at Erica.Depiero (at)  Make a point to find out who’s in your area and connect today!



One thought on “Networking…it starts with a single conversation

  1. Kudos, Shannon, for the initiative of following up on our meeting. Yes, I was one of the lucky participants in the January event. I wouldn’t think twice to join you again for a similar event. The synergy generated in our small group was priceless. I appreciated the genuine dialog, the openness with which we all shared successes and challenges. What specifically I got out of the event? Many “Aha” moments! The big one was the discussion on the On-boarding/Orientation. Thank you Erica, Justin and Shannon for sharing what worked for your organizations, that helped me work on a process applicable to CRS. Once back to my office, I drafted an Orientation structure for CRS agency-wide. I shared it with my colleagues in HR and contact persons in the field and I’ve got great feedback so far. It is moving forward as we speak… I’ll keep you posted.

    Also, thanks to our interaction I have a better understanding of a certification program: its design, structure, incentives, stakeholders, etc. I plan to outline one for supervisor development and put it into practice by the end of this FY. I wouldn’t mind continuing to discuss this topic with you, guys.

    Looking forward to seeing you all in April!

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