“The power of a network can be reduced to its simplest form in ‘I know someone who knows someone who knows someone.’”
Dr. Adrian Rogers once asked, “Have you ever thought about what a net is, and what it does? A net is a lot of little strings tied together. Unless those strings are tied together, you won’t have a net. You can’t catch much with one little string, but you can catch a lot with a net. We are a lot of little strings tied together. That’s what makes the net work.”
Those words had a profound impact on my friend, Dr. James O. Davis. In fact, he recently wrote a book about that titled How to Make Your Net Work (2013). “The essence of networking is the tying of relationships for a greater cause.” He has also said, “In the future, those who are not networking will not be working.”
Davis has been called a “master at networking.” He has flown over eight million miles building a network of over 1,350 church denominations and organizations in what is called the Billion Soul Network, the largest pastors’ network in the world. He really believes “we can achieve so much more together than we can ever do alone.”
The principles within his book could apply to any profession. He speaks of the importance of setting goals, leaving our silos, and cultivating creativity. But it is “The Movement of the Networker” that I want to tell you about. He suggests five key areas where we need to move.
Moving from Competitor to Collaborator. If you are trying to “outdo somebody else,” you will never be a good networker. “Competition may be good for economic growth, but collaboration creates an environment where people share their ideas and their resources.” Networkers are collaborators, not competitors.
Moving from Critic to Complimenter. “For every criticism you speak,” Davis says, “give three compliments.” How easy it is to emphasize what is not working rather than to focus on what is working. Networking is like a bank account and if we only withdraw from our relationship account through criticism, the network will go bankrupt.
Moving from Complainer to Connector. No one wants to connect with someone who is complaining all the time. The more we complain about our circumstances, the more we untie the knots of the network. Networkers focus on the connections rather than on disconnections that need more help in order to work.
Moving from Casual to Causal. A good network will not be built by itself. Casual efforts rarely produce anything of lasting value. You just can’t casually pick up an instrument or try public speaking or start to earn a degree or even play golf. If we are going to be good at anything, we must take it on with the motivation that we are committed to make it a cause.
Moving from Self-Centered to the Center. Davis says, “Great networkers don’t focus on themselves. They don’t seek a position. Rather, they explore their core and take the next step…they learn how to articulate vision from the middle, lead from the middle, and connect from the middle.”
According to Davis, “To be great networkers, it is important that there (in the middle) we develop a circumference to our lives, recognizing that there are people at all levels of leadership who encircle us on all sides. As networkers, we are in the middle of that circle. Our goal is to develop the skills that will enable us to reach out in every direction to connect, support, and encourage these people from the middle…”
As I read this book I thought of Malcolm Gladwell’s idea in his classic The Tipping Point where he mentions “connecting with connectors.”
Someone said, “We’re better together.” Davis would say, “We’re REALLY MUCH better AND MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE together.”
Think about it.
Dr. Don Meyer is President of Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA
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