Monday, March 10, 2008

Networking - so little time so many options

Have you noticed how many opportunities you have these days to network. Whether it is conferences or networking web sites, they seem to be popping up everywhere. How do you make these choices when your life is already too full?

Here are some tips worth considering:
1. In regards to networking web sites (linkedin.com, facebook.com, myspace.com), each one has a personality and a style. Join all three and watch how the features play out. You will probably find that one or two really fit you and how you operate. Then stick with that one instead of trying to manage 5-6 networking profiles successfully.

2. When looking at a potential conference, the first thing you should do is throw away the promotional materials they send you. There are many good conferences but you won't know it from the materials.

3. When you find a conference that looks interesting, find someone who has gone. Usually these conferences tend to focus on a certain type of person. Some attract CEO-level people and are most beneficial to them. Others attract workers who are dealing with very practical day-to-day issues. You need to know that so that you will understand what kind of networking can be accomplished.

4. The city where it's held is important. Are there other organizations/people you need to meet with in town? If so you can combine the event with other key meetings.

5. The keynote speakers are usually hyped significantly. Think about listening to something they have online via podcast. Or read something they have written. Decide whether hearing from them will help you in your specific ministry/function.

I hope these help you as you wade through the onslaught of networking opportunities.

4 comments:

Jason Dittle said...
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Ellen said...

Good suggestions. I would add:
--If seminars are being offered at the conference, check out the topics and presenters. Those sessions and the opportunity to interact with presenters afterward are often more valuable than keynotes. Seminars are also good places to discover other people with specific interests that match your own.
--Try to find out if the keynoter will be presenting new material or summarizing material he/she has already published. If it's all in the book, the conference may not be worth the time and cost.
--Will some or all of the presentations be offered later from a website? If so, do the in-person networking opportunities make being there in person worth the outlay?
--Are key people you want to see going to be there? The value of networking with colleagues over coffee may be worth the cost of the conference. (But be honest with yourself, hanging out with friends is fun, but not the same as real networking!)

Jon and Mindy Hirst said...

Ellen,

Great comments! That critical eye when it comes to these events is important. It is easy to be a conference junkie but it is much more challenging to pick the ones that will help you be more effective and innovative in your ministry.

Marty and Alane said...

Networking is great. However, I am finding that you better have a specific purpose in mind or it is just another social activity and can get out of hand.

For example, I am interested in visiting campus ministries at public colleges and universities here in the mid-west. I am hoping to get to know campus ministers and students leaders at several schools. Hopefully, these campus ministers will give me the green light to get to know their students over a cup of coffee or through presenting mission materials in one of their group events. I met my wife Alane of 20 years at a campus ministry at Lake Superior State College in 1986.

My goal for this type of networking would be to point out to these students the Lord's global plan for the nations(mobilization) and then to present ministry needs at HCJB Global or other ministries. To find a good fit for each student that has a heart for serving the Lord. My plan would be to bring them to the "front door" of various ministries. Perhaps I could also take them on a short-term work team missions trip to an international location at HCJB Global or to a partner ministry in another country.

I would like to reach college kids, because they have recently become independent from their parents and are considering what is next after college.

Through facebook I have already met several Inter-varsity and Campus Crusade for Christ campus ministers . I currently have something like 617 facebook friends. I have joined mission groups and found people who live in the Midwest. To get these contacts I wrote them an introduction note telling of my intentions of networking for missions and they had the opportunity of accepting or rejecting my friend request. I asked 1000's to get the 617 who accepted.

The problem is that with a family and a busy schedule I don't have time for this. I am hoping that I can find an avenue of doing this through a new position within HCJB. It would be nice if I could also have a couple people working for me so I could have help keeping a database and to help with follow-up.

Please pray for me along these lines. I am asking the Lord to make a way for this to become a reality.

My point is that we need to make sure we network with a purpose and don't bite off more than we can chew. We probably need to first take baby steps and grow into having more contacts with more influence.

Thanks for this great info! Keep it up.

Marty