You’ve likely heard of “speed dating” where a group of singles come together and spend about 60-90 seconds on mini dates with each person in the group hoping that the brief encounter will lead to an actual love connection.
At the invitation of one of my members I recently attended a “speed networking” lunch designed to bring together small business owners. The gathering included realtors, bankers, consultants, and entrepreneurs. I was the only pastor in the group, but I quickly realized that this was a golden opportunity to get some face time with a group of mostly young, highly motivated, smart, mainly unchurched people.
Each encounter lasted 2 minutes with each of us having 60 seconds to introduce ourselves, explain what we do, and hand over a business card. The way this particular event was organized I connected with 15 people directly and talked with the rest of the group during the lunch. I walked away from the event with a ton of business cards and having had the opportunity to personally invite each person I met to my church!
What is the value of such experiences you say? Think about the fact that in a couple of hours with no handbills, radio advertisements, or expensive newspaper ads I put a face on the local Adventist church and extended a personal invitation for people to come check us out. With the exchange of contact information the door was left open for further contact and relationship in the future.
I believe Jesus was the ultimate networker! He had kingdom business to do and rather than hunker down in some secluded corner of Jerusalem He got out there and mingled with people. You obviously get where I’m going with this. I believe the days of attracting people to our rather obscure little churches are mainly over. The strategy now has to be to get out there among the people and connect or “network”. Here are some ways to get out there and begin building a network of relationships that could result in fruit for the kingdom:
Every city has a local chamber of commerce that likely hosts networking or social events. Check them out on the web, get on their mailing list, and plan to attend at least one event a month.
Business Cards Make sure you have plenty of sharp, professionally produced, up-to-date business cards to hand out. Your card should have contact info, worship service location and times, and church website url.
Host an Event
Partner with a Christian business owner and host your own networking event at a restaurant, event center, or at your church. You’ll need to charge a small fee ($20-$25) to cover the meal but most small business owners will see your event as an opportunity to meet potential new clients.
Be the Message
The important thing to remember when “networking” is that you are the message! The most unique job I’ve ever had was when I worked at summer camp and on registration day I dressed up in one of those full body character outfits like you see at Disneyland. The costume was a giant dog suit with a big head. It was somewhat uncomfortable because it was too big for me and hung off my body making me look like a giant Charpe`!
As parents and kids arrived at camp I stood at the camp entrance waving and bouncing around energetically. Many of the families even took the time to stop and take pictures with me or try to convince their kid to come up and shake my hand or give me a hug. The big dog suit was a welcome site for campers and their parents. It conveyed that camp was a fun and exciting place where they would meet friends and enjoy great activities. You are the church and as people encounter you they will have an impression of your church. This means that you must BE the message that you are inviting people to check out!
“Networking” reminds me of the popular words from Ministry of Healing page 143, “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed his sympathy for them, Ministered to their needs, and won their confidence then he bade them, ‘follow me’”
So whether it’s speed networking or networking at normal pace the point is lets get out there and connect on behalf of the kingdom of God. If you would like more information on networking or how to host a networking event please contact Carlos Linares at linaresconsulting.com.