Visionaries need someone to envision with. Interested members the community need to be part of the process. Most projects enlist the input and support of a subgroup of the community to help define the survey, participate in prototyping and pilot-testing, give map design input and encourage others to participate in the mapping survey.
You can call them Ambassadors, Pilot-Testers, Design Team, Advocates - You could even have a separate group for each of those functions if there's enough interest. You can convene them for a group process (once or many times), or you can reach out to them one-on-one. It all depends on your context, how big your network is & how much energy has been generated around this initiative.
This is another place where diversity is important - you can't really get at the needs of the whole if you only have representatives of a few key parts at the table.
But at the same time, if you can't generate a whole lot of starting fan-fare - don't fret. Just start where you can & take it from there. But whatever you do, try to get survey design input and feedback at all stages from at least a couple other people who have different perspectives. And the more the merrier.
You can't map much if you can't get your network members to engage - you have to be considering the value to them at every step of the way. At a minimum, start with whoever is interested. Get a pilot test of the survey going. Make a prototype of a map so those who are on it have something to show others, and enlist the interested in getting others to support the project, be on the map, whatever it is you need.
Once you have a map started, you can begin to engage the whole network in making sense of what you have. Which will start the cycle all over again as you begin to envision what else the map could represent.
A Social System Map is an opportunity to practice what we preach. The Three Hats not only have different strengths, they tend to think and communicate differently. In network weaving circles, we talk a lot about working together across differences - but we still tend to gravitate towards those who are like us. This is especially true when it comes to thinking & communication styles. Even those who are good with other differences often don't know how to work well with different thinking types. This can create all kinds of tensions, and if not handled well, all kinds of misunderstanding, mistakes, frustration and wasted time.
I used to say that my job was to translate the infinite, abstract, non-linear, multi-dimensional verbalized desires of the Visionaries among our clients down into the finite, linear, single-dimensional bits and bites of computer logic so the Technicians have tools to work with, and then out again to abstract, interactive, visual representations of the resulting data that enable normal people to see something they can't see in any other way. I had to navigate & translate among 3 extremely different languages all at once.
The hardest thing about that self-imposed job of mine was that very few people I ever talked with could even sense that I had to do the parts they weren't doing - as far as I could tell, they usually thought their language was the only one being spoken & the only one that was relevant. Sometimes the strain of all that mental work in the face of so many blindly innocent demands could push me into a very cranky place.
But the up-side of all that, for me, was discovering that it's a powerful practice if you embrace it. It can help you slow down, question more, listen even better, push for ever more clarity, become ever more transparent, learn to push others gently to the edges of their assumptions, and ultimately co-learn and co-create things you can't imagine if you don't engage in the kind of practice a good, collaborative Social System Map demands.
I love that. I love that you can't do a really great job of this stuff all on your own. I love that it forces us to work to be greater than the sum of our parts.