Networking should be a high priority for anyone in ministry. Networking with other ministers allows you to be inspired, encouraged and challenged. It allows you to see beyond the daily life of your own church ministry. It typically costs very little money, but the payoff is big. The challenge when it comes to networking is that, while it may not cost much monetarily, it costs time. That can be the most difficult price to pay for people in ministry. For me, business has kept me from making and building valuable connections at times, but over the last couple of years I’ve found a couple of strategies that have helped me make it a reality. If you’re struggling to network the way you’d like, here are some tips to help make it happen.
Schedule it into your yearly calendar.
Ministry tends to move in cycles. For me, January and October are the best two months for networking. This year, I scheduled Thursday meetings with Kyle Zimmerman, and my recent trip to Yorba Linda Friends during January, and I scheduled both a couple of months in advance. That way I could calendar the rest of the month around them. If you can identify your best months or weeks for networking in advance, you’re more likely to fit some good connection time into them.
Take advantage of social networking.
Nothing beats face-to-face meetings, but chatting with other children’s ministry leaders via skype or google chat is a pretty neat runner-up. Identify some leaders you’d like to interact with, and shoot an email or a tweet to them. Odds are that you’ll get to make a good connection from your own office!
Identify goals ahead of time.
If you’re going to take time out of the office, you’ll probably need the go-ahead of your senior leadership. To make that easier, decide on something concrete that you’ll get out of networking. Both my meetings with Kyle and my trip to Yorba Linda had some stated objectives (parenting resources with Kyle, tips on room design and volunteer training from Yorba Linda Friends). Having these goals identified made it easier for me to demonstrate the value of my time spent away from campus. Plus, if you start with what you want to learn, it will help you identify the best people to connect with.
Networking with other leaders is a huge positive in ministry. Good luck making it happen, and feel free to connect with me!