Growing As A Strategic Networker In Ministry - Part 2: 10 Tips
As you engage your community through networking, I want to offer ten practical tips to remember. Many of these may seem obvious, but it’s important to keep them front and center in our minds.
Tip #1: Be persistent. Networking takes a lot of work. Pursuing people and relationships is tough. But don’t give up when it gets tough! Be persistent.
Tip #2: Don’t take it personally when folks aren’t interested in connecting. I say this in love: You’re going to get shot down…a lot. And it can be deflating. But don’t take it personally. Some people don’t know what to do with pastors. In fact, it weirds them out to think about “getting together” with a pastor. That is ok. The point will come when they’re going to need a pastor. And now that they know a pastor in the community that has shown interest in them, don’t be surprised if they reach out to you at some point down the road.
Tip #3: Set measurable networking goals. How many people are you going to connect with this week? This month? This year? What does a “win” look like in terms of building your network? Setting achievable, measurable goals can be very helpful as you begin to grow your circle of relationships.
Tip #4: Give out your business card anywhere and everywhere. I know it sounds old school, but get business cards made and keep them with you all the time. You never know when you can give one to somebody. As an example, I know that when I go out to eat somewhere, I have the opportunity to get to know and encourage a waiter or waitress. I will often leave my card with an invitation to join us for worship on a Sunday. I do the same thing in other contexts where I meet people, which is pretty much everywhere. It’s amazing how many people have come to our church, or wanted to get together to talk, simply because I gave them my card. Think about it, as you meet people, how are they supposed to get in touch with you or your church if they don’t have any information? This is the genius of the old school business card. Everything they need is right there.
Tip #5: Don’t talk about yourself too much. When you’re hanging out with a person you have never met before in the community, don’t talk about yourself too much. Ask questions about them and then listen well. Make eye contact. Don’t look at your phone. Listen because you actually care about this person’s story and what they have to say. They will appreciate it. They will feel loved.
Tip #6: Encourage people like crazy. Encouragement is so powerful. Sadly, it is rare to find people in our day, even in the church, who are true encouragers of others. One of the greatest ways you can show love and care to another person is by genuinely encouraging them. Make speaking words of encouragement not only part of your networking, but part of your everyday life as a follower of Christ!
Tip #7: Learn AND use people’s names. Discipline yourself to learn the names of people and then use their name when you speak with them. Calling someone by their name makes them feel truly known and cared for.
Tip #8: Always follow-up with a text or email after meetings or personal encounters. When you meet someone new from the community, always follow-up with an encouraging email or text. Even a quick note that says, “Thank you for hanging out with me; it was so insightful. I really enjoyed it. I’d love to get together again sometime. Thanks for all you’re doing!” Even a short, personal text can mean the world.
Tip #9: Always follow-through with anything you agree to do for or with others. You don’t want to get the reputation of being the guy who doesn’t follow-through with things you agree to do. That is a sure way to lose respect, especially from strong leaders. Be a person of your word. Follow through.
Tip #10: Social media can be your friend – with discernment. Social media can be your friend when it comes to building your network, but you must be discerning. Whether it is Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or something else, there is great potential for good but also great potential for harm. Just be wise and discerning in this.