So you want to start network mapping in, the wonderful new online interactive mapping platform.

Your map should show the relationships among the members in your change network.  And you’ve signed up for your free sumApp trial because you’ve heard it’s the best way to gather network relationship data directly from your members, and that the data output is designed to work great with But now what? If you’ve never done this sort of thing before, Hooray for you! We LOVE people who try new things & dive in before they’re sure what to do next.

At Greater than the Sum, we’re perpetually in that mode, because everything is changing so fast that by the time you figure things out ahead, the entire landscape has shifted. You either have to jump into the shifting stream & figure it out as you go, or stand on the “I-Know-What-I’m-Doing” stable sidelines watching the world pass you by.

But seriously? Ok. Network Mapping? What’s next? It CAN be a little confusing, can’t it? So I’ll toss you a bone 🙂   What follows is what we do with clients and what I tell anyone who asks me – it’s your Brief Guide to Getting Started Network Mapping in sumApp.

Set up these 5 parts of a project before you launch sumApp with your network:


  1. Survey questions
  2. Connection options
  3. Segmented email list
  4. Email template texts
  5. In-App texts


So let’s jump in:


  1. Your Survey Questions (We’ll dig into this in more depth in a future post)

sumApp Tier’s II and above include a member survey, which you’ll need to setup to suit your context. We start you off with a generic network survey to get your thinking  flowing, but you should at least tweak it for your situation. This survey will be presented to your network members on the 3rd tab of the member view. It should be designed to be answered by each individual network member, about themselves, their role in the network, their expectations from the network.

  • Helpful Hints:
    • Use standardized options as much as possible, especially with questions you’ll want to filter or cluster on in the map.
    • Add at least one open-ended text field question that allows members to give more personal detail. Having only standardized options makes some people feel too boxed in & makes them cranky – so standardize what’s primary to know, but also give them some space for self-expression.
    • Get survey design input from a mixed group of stakeholder perspectives. Make sure it’s meaningful to them, and uses THEIR words.
    • You CAN edit your survey questions even AFTER launching the project if necessary, so don’t sweat this too much, just do your best & get started.
  • To input into sumApp, navigate to:
    • My Projects,
      • In the intended project
        • Edit
          • Edit Survey Form

Note: In sumApp, we call each network’s ‘survey’ a PROJECT (not a ‘survey’). So, if you’re working with 3 different networks, each is a separate PROJECT in our instructions. Why? Because in Tier I, the project only asks CONNECTION questions, there isn’t a ‘survey’ component. In addition to connection questions, all project types also include a picture upload & a brief tweet-sized bio field that help members identify each other, but the customizable survey component only exists in Tiers II, III, IV. Since every project contains a survey, we refer to ‘projects’ when talking about all the tier types, and reserve the word ‘survey’ to only refer to the specific survey component in the higher tiered project types.

2. Connection options Think about where your network relationships start out and where you (ideally) want them to end up. Try to make them into clear-cut steps of increasing connectedness. Here’s a common example:

  • I’ve shared info/ideas with this person, but not in the past year.
  • I’ve shared info/ideas with this person in the past year.
  • I’ve collaborated with this person in the past.
  • I’ve collaborated with this person in the past year.

But make this relevant: suppose your intention is for people to share important life stories, maybe a ranking system could be:

  • I know who this person is, but we haven’t heard each other’s life stories.
  • I know this person’s story.
  • This person knows my story.
  • We know each other’s life stories.
  • We know each other’s stories and we lean on each other for support
  • (I’m making this up, hopefully you get the idea – make it relevant to the overall purpose)
  • Helpful Hint:
    • Currently connection options are NOT editable after a single connection has been made. So DO sweat this one & be sure you get it right before you open it to the general membership – at least until we change that feature, which is in the roadmap.
  • To input into sumApp, navigate to:
    • My Projects,
      • In the intended project
        • Edit
          • Edit Connection Options

3. Segmented email list sumApp sends project participation emails directly to your members and tracks their activity from inside the app – which makes your life as administrator much easier. But in order to do that, you need to define your project population. i.e. create a member list in a .csv file with 4 columns – including First Name, Last Name, Email Address, and Segment (which is optional).  

What is a ‘Segment’? – sumApp is able to gather connection data from up to 1,500 network members. At that scale, it becomes pretty challenging for anyone to go through the entire list to indicate who they know. We have several ways of minimizing the overwhelm, the most helpful of which is the ‘Segment’ filter. You can always add more members after you launch the project

  1. The idea is to assign a single segment to each member on your list, to help everyone filter the entire population down to the people they’re most likely to know.
  2. For instance:
    • If your network is comprised of teachers in 20 different schools, you might use schools as segments, so they can filter the list to just show others from their own school, or the 3 other schools they’re familiar with.
    • If your network is National, segments might = States.
    • If it’s an interfaith network, segments might = faiths.
    • If it’s an alumni network, segments might = graduation years.
  • Helpful hints:
    • The point is not to separate people, but simply to help them focus their efforts (in sumApp) where there’s the greatest likelihood of knowing others.
    • Segmenting is not so crucial in smaller groups, but putting something basic in there can still help people be certain when identifying others.
    • Segment is a one-to-one relationship. Don’t use labels where people will be likely to fit into two or more segments, such as interest areas, or community group affiliations.
    • If you do your best & still end up with someone who ‘belongs’ in two segments, pick the one they probably have the most connections to (the filter allows members to pick any number of segments, so they’ll still be able to filter on both). If you’re uncomfortable making that assignment – ask them!
    • You can always re-assign segments in the app, so don’t fret this too much, just get a system started & tweak it as needed.
      • To input into sumApp, navigate to:
    • My Projects,
      • In the intended project
        • Manage Invitations

     4. Email Template Texts sumApp sends emails to your membership, inviting them to participate in the project – including a link to their instance (or ‘member view) of your project. We start you with generic texts, but you should edit them to suit your context. There are 3 types of emails

  1. Initial Invitations – this text is for the first email the member see regarding the project. It explains all the details.
  2. New Faces email – this text is for people who have already input their data into the project. It’s used when you add new members who haven’t already been seen/connected to by previous project-participants. It invites members to go back into the App to see if they know any of the new members.
  3. Reminder email – Used when you want to urge everyone to finish up responding before a chosen deadline.


  • Helpful Hints:
    • Make sure to explain WHY you’re doing this project
    • In ‘New Faces’ be clear that you know they’ve ‘already done it’, you’re not saying they didn’t, you’re just informing them there are new people in there they might know (and the list is sortable by the most recent, so it will be quick).
    • The link in the email remains the same per person for as long as they’re in the project, you might let them know they can go back in anytime to change answers or update connection strengths.
  • To input into sumApp, navigate to:
    • My Projects,
      • In the intended project
        • Edit
          • Email Templates

         5. In-App Texts All sumApp Tiers have basic text areas that you need to fine-tune for your situation, including:

  1. Welcome text – explaining what you want your members to do & why.
  2. Data-usage text – telling them what you plan to do with the data gathered (‘make a private/public network map in Kumu.’ ‘Not share it with anyone’. . . ).
  3. Thank you text – when the complete data-input, there is a thank-you page.

TIER IV Only: Tier IV is designed to work with non-person entities, such as programs or organizations. Therefore, when working in Tier IV, you also have the option of changing some bits of App instructional texts to be more relevant to your situation. Such as:

  • Instead of hard-coded ‘Bio’, you can change it to ‘program definition’, or:
  • ‘How well do you know this person’ can become ‘what kind of relationship does your program have with this other program?’
  • Helpful Hints:
    • The ‘welcome’ text and the ‘thank you’ texts can be formatted and can include images & links to related webpages. So make it clear and inviting!
  • To input into sumApp, navigate to:
    • My Projects,
      • In the intended project
        • Edit
          • Settings

More about good getting-started network-engagement strategy

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John Steven Bianucci
5 years ago

Thank you! Interesting; practical. Looking forward to developing relationship. 


John Steven