In most coaching, teaching and mentoring opportunities at some point I get asked what advice I would give to a young or aspiring minister. My response goes something like this. “To move forward in your ministry career, you must prioritize your ongoing development in four areas: spiritual, emotional, professional and relational.” I then take a few minutes to unpack some proven ways to continually grow in each area. When I get to relational growth I remind them of the well-known phrase, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” Another memorable way to say that is that “your network is your net worth.”
I go on to tell them that God orchestrated connections with people that shared my values, faith and interests have changed my life. My first job in ministry to my last job and every job and significant opportunity in between all came from my network of friends and colleagues. Never once did I have to apply for a job or lobby for a consulting or coaching opportunity. God always worked through someone in my network of relationships.
My experience echoes what Porter Gale, author of “Your Network Is Your Net Worth”, says: “I believe that your social capital, or your ability to build a network of authentic personal and professional relationships, not your financial capital, is the most important asset in your portfolio. I believe that seeking out and working in collaboration with others who share your interests and values will provide a stronger foundation, enabling you to reach a higher level of success than you would on your own.”
Why Is Networking So Important?
Networking is about developing, cultivating and nurturing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with the people you encounter. This skill has always been important, but maybe now more than ever. Let’s look at a several reasons why.
- The #1 Predictor Of Career Success. Forbes Magazine research suggest that the #1 predictor of career success is the size and openness of one’s network. The number of people in your network is important but so is the breadth or openness of your network. Most people spend their careers in closed networks of people who already know each other. People often say in the same business, religion, industry and political party because it is easier and more comfortable. But Forbes research indicates it’s not enough to simply network within the bubble of your profession – you have to branch out and meet with people outside your immediate sphere of influence.
- Less Job Security Than In The Past. Today’s reality is that no matter how skilled and passionate you are, you can at any given moment, be forced into unemployment. Having a large and open network of relationships will increase your likelihood of rapid re-employment, even in a down economy.
- Employers Are Increasingly Depending Upon Internal Referrals. A recent New York Times article stated, “Big companies are increasingly using their own workers to find new hires, saving time and money but lengthening the odds for job seekers without connections.” Organizations and businesses have also discovered a higher success and retention rate for new hires when they were recommended by current employees.
- Technology Has Enhanced Networking. Advances in technology and social media have changed the networking playing field and redefined the job prospecting process in virtually every profession. Failure to network through technology will increasingly limit your opportunities.
- Networking Increases Happiness. Research has proven that connecting with others with similar values and passions can also increase your feelings of happiness. James Fowler, a professor at UC San Diego, stated in an interview with NPR, “We find that people at the center of a social network tend to be happier. We think the reason why is because those in the center are more susceptible to the waves of happiness that spread throughout the network.”
For many people networking comes naturally, due to their outgoing and socially oriented personalities. For others who are more reserved, it is not so easy to build a broad network of relationships. In our next article we will share some tips for building an effective network regardless of your personality.
Posted on September 27, 2022