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Net Control Procedures

What does it take to be an Effective Net Control Station By Tom Lykins

     Throughout the years, one thing I have enjoyed in amateur radio is being the Net Control of a net.  It may be a Section-level-net, Regional Net or, just a "good-ole-rag chew-net."  While there have been various guidelines set up for nets, one thing that many of them have failed to address.  

In order to be a good and effective Net Control Station, you must have what I call "good people skills."  In other words, you must like people.  You must learn to be an effective communicator and be able to interact with the members on your net "one-on-one," or you will never really master the art of being a good Net Control station.  

The question then is--"how can I acquire these skills?"  First, you must listen to the group that you want to be an Ncs of.  It may be a traffic net or just a "rag-chew-net.  Learn who the people are who participate in this group activity and something about each of them.  Become part of the group yourself.  You must learn to interact with them and identify with things they are interested in even if the subject matter has no interest to you personally. Try, if you can, to educate yourself on  the topics they discuss even if you only have a very basic and rudimentary understanding of the subject matter,  like fishing, auto racing, motorcycles, guns,knives, campers, recreational vehicles and the list goes on.  Try, if you can to become some what familiar enough with these topics to where, if you have no interest in them, you  can let the members of the group  discuss their interests.  There will still be plenty of time left for you to get on the air and talk about your interests.  

As much as possible, try  and become an "ombudsman" on as many subjects as you can.   This is not to  say that you must become an expert on each and every thing that is brought up but, at least know where to go and get the answer to a question that may come up or have a good idea where a person may go to get the answer to their question.  Offer help when asked.  

Try and not force your thoughts or ideas on the group or one individual unless asked to do so.  

Now, lets  talk about how to conduct the net.  First, get the call signs right.  Don't guess or "flub up."  This is a total "turn-off" to the net participants.  Remember,  as Net control station you are the "boss" to a point.  This is to say that while you are in charge of the net you don't do anything that would be counter-productive to the net.  By being the boss you control the net.  Don't let the net control you.  All too often Net Control stations have never learned this skill.  If you are going to be a successful Net control station,  you must learn this skill above and beyond any other.  If a station steps out of line just lightly admonish him and say that he or she will be identified in their proper time and place.  In this day and age we are so concerned with "political correctness", that we have unknowingly diminished our effectiveness as a Net Control Station.   We have become too concerned about "hurting some ones feelings" that we forget why we are here in the first-place.  If we use tact, we can effectively do what we started to accomplish in the first place.  

If the net you call has a comment section,  when addressing the stations for comments always call the station, know their name and try to come up with something that is unique only to that person.  If you don't know their name and location, it is your responsibility to find out, then do what ever it takes to commit that to memory.   Never  just give partial call signs as this sends a message to that net participant that you really know nothing about them.  This will generally turn them off and they are not likely to participate in your net again.  

The net participants want to be able to identify with "you."  You are their director for that few minutes you are calling the net.  They are looking to you,  unconsciously for guidance of-a-sort.  If your net is a traffic net, it is imperative that you know and understand the National Traffic System and how it is supposed to work.  Never" guess."  Understand all functions of Nts and learn them well.  If you need to keep a desk-reference at your operating position then "do so."  Study it do not try and leaf through it and guess as to what you should do.  All to often, people want to call the net but don't know just where and how to begin.  While their heart may be in the right place, it is not just something that happens. Never give a net "stolen Minutes of your time."   It takes both study and practice.  

Never hurry through a net.  Before agreeing to be a Net Control Station, study and look how long that it takes, for the person whom you perceive as a good net control station to call the net and pace yourself accordingly.  Net participants can tell if you are in a hurry to "just get it over with," and, here again it is a turn-off.  

I am only writing this because I have been asked what it takes to be a good Net Control station.  You may agree or disagree,  that is up to you.  However, in closing, if you will try my method you will find that you will be much more successful in this endeavor.