When I first got married, my husband talked incessantly about networking. I would bristle at the mere mention of the word network. For me, networking meant you had to know someone to be anyone. Want to move up the ladder? You better know someone. You want to make the cheer team in high school? You better know someone. You want to get a raise? You better be in the bosses left pocket (or was it his right?). But as I observed my newlywed man, I learned something that I never knew about networking. Networking was not what I thought it was.
Networking is about people.
People are unique. What a boring world it would be if we were all the same. Every person you meet, come in contact with, or even work with on a daily basis has a story, a skill set, a passion, and a dream. When you take the time to get to know people and see how this complex world God created is divinely intertwined, you learn to appreciate how you can help those around you and they can help you. Part of it is putting to death self-sufficiency. Part of it is realizing the world is bigger than your little paradigm. Most of it is realizing that people desire to share their dreams and have others to chase those dreams with them.
With very few exceptions, success has more to do with the people you surround yourself with than the skills you have individually. I have always enjoyed working with talented and passionate people. I even married one. The results of a cohesive group of people with a similar vision is so much more powerful than the work of an individual seeking credit and fame. As my husband said when he asked me to marry him, “We can glorify God more together than we can separately.”
Networking is about relationships.
Relationships start with our Creator desiring a relationship with us. So much so, that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to this earth to live a perfect life and die a gruesome death. Then, Christ defeated death and rose from the grave and now sits at the right hand of God, bridging the gap between us and God so that we can share in a personal relationship with God the Father. This is our perfect example of relationships.
What if we took the time to truly get to know people? What if we shared our dreams and aspirations with each other? What if we joyfully pooled the resources, connections, and gifts God has given us in order to help each other reach our goals? Yes, networking can be a self-centered effort to get something or somewhere by using other people, but I truly believe that those motives will be found out and will not have long term benefits.
In the end, my husband taught me that networking is an outward-focused, humble-pursuit of what God can do in and through the people around us by developing relationships. So don’t just see networking as an opportunity to get something, but start seeing networking as an opportunity to be a tool for God working in the lives of others as well.