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Today, we launched NationBuilder Network, and I feel particularly lucky to have gotten to work with a wide array of our users as they’ve grown into Network leaders. Seeing people start off in a mindset where building a network doesn't seem possible and getting to the point where they're engaging and working with members of their community and local leaders to build something new that's bigger than themselves - it's an incredible process. So how did they get there?

The first big question I spend a lot of time helping people in that boat answer is how do you lead a network of people? The question doesn’t always take that form. Sometimes it’s, “What’s going to happen if I give up my centralized control?” and sometimes it’s exactly the opposite, “Won’t building a centralized structure like this take away the grassroots nature of our movement?” Those are totally legitimate questions, and it’s perfectly reasonable to be concerned, even a little scared, about what it means to build a network, to put your trust and your faith in the distributed decision making power of your local leaders. But here’s the thing that a lot of people won’t tell you:

It’s supposed to be scary.

You’re doing something that most people have never done, something that’s risky and puts your vision for a better world out there for other people to see and to comment on. As someone who works on the internet all day, everyday, I know a thing or two about what a comments section can look like. But by taking your vision and putting it out there, putting it in the hands of other people who believe in it, you’re also creating the groundwork for incredible change and a deep sense of community among people across the world who are committed to what you’re trying to do.

That’s why I’m so excited about NationBuilder Network as a product. Network allows you to serve as a leader for all of your local chapters, analyzing big picture data, making organization-wide decisions, and distributing shared resources. At the same time it gives you the ability to empower the people who run those chapters to be leaders themselves, boosting local buy-in for your cause and strengthening the role your members play in the community.

Don’t think about this change as a loss of centralized power. Rather, think about the standardized channels for communication and processes for approval across all your chapters you now have. Instead of focusing on the loss of your grassroots origins, focus on the fact that you now have a platform for sharing ideas and resources, so that each of your local communities can work together to thrive. With Network, you’ve got the ability to lead your local communities to increased growth, visibility, and impact, which gives you time to focus on solving the issue on the minds of so many headquarters teams: scalability.

Scale your relationships, scale your workflow, and bring more people and more chapters on board. That’s my vision of what NationBuilder Network can do, and I’m excited to help you get there.

This is part one of a four part series on NationBuilder Network. Read part two. Check back soon for parts three and four.

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