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Social Network

“I work for Veteran Affairs in the programs evaluation department. There’s always a lot of red tape to navigate in order to get innovative ideas through. I used the Social Network to illustrate trust across my organization. I mapped out those I felt aligned with, those who I didn’t, and those who I wanted to strike a stronger alliance with.”

Who do you work or socialize with, and what roles do they fill in your life?

Humans are fundamentally social creatures, thriving because of each other. Most of us require interacting with others, being part of communities, to be and feel well. We also belong to multiple communities simultaneously.

In addition to close family and friends, who else inhabits your life? Map out your “social networks”—such as the people you work or go to school with, others in your faith group or social club or sports team, or your neighbors—to become more aware of your relationships with them.

Reflecting on these relationships can give you a better understanding of the nature of your social connections, illustrating who are most impactful in your life and why.

The Social Network tool is more abstract than the Atlas CareMap, enabling the inclusion of more and different characteristics about the people and relationships. In the Social Network tool, each person is represented by a rectangle. The design emphasizes how often you communicate with each person, your perceptions of your relationship, and how often you support each other.

Especially when first learning to use the Social Network tool, choose a clearly defined group to illustrate — your business, or your department at work, or your book club, or your soccer team, etc.

You can create a separate Social Network drawing for different groups.

Impact Stories

“It was interesting for me to see how other people in my office help me more than I help them. It was a good learning experience to stop and acknowledge other people too.””

“I’m excited to use this tool again to help myself form a new group that will become a team for strategic planning purposes.”

“I used this tool to map the 5 CEO partner interactions with me as the director of our collaborative. Seeing the relationships as a visual gave me a different perspective and an idea of how to make us stronger.”


Social Network instructions, as well as Data Collection and Data Drawing templates, can be found on pages 10–15 of the Mapping Ourselves workbook.

Reflection Questions

After completing your data drawing, answer the following questions to reflect on your data collection and drawing experience.

  • In the creation and evaluation of this drawing, what stood out for you?
  • What do you observe regarding the levels of support received and given?
  • Is there a correlation between the type of relationship and the characteristics of respect?

Here are some more suggestions for deeper reflection and exploration:

  • Is there anything surprising about the frequency of support? Are there people with whom you’d prefer more (or less) support?
  • What do you observe regarding the characteristics you respect, and perceive that you are respected for?
  • The theory of “the strength of weak ties” suggests that the people who you see only occasionally and have friendly or formal (but not close) relationships with give you access to the widest networks. Can you identify such “weak ties” in your network?
  • Overall, how strong of a sense of belonging do you feel with this group of people?
Except where noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.