One of the most ingrained lessons I have learned over my career is the value of professional networking.
In its simplicity, a professional network is a valued resource for seeking employment, sales, and staying in touch with colleagues. At higher levels, a professional network is a valued tool for individual growth, support, education, and helping others.
You are a church worker. You have chosen to use your gifts and talents as a church professional.
You are part of a group of church workers that includes ordained ministers, teachers, deaconesses, educators, lay ministers, and more.
You are part of a network. You have common experiences, education, trials, celebrations, and knowledge.
Benefits of a professional network
- Benefits your mission—Networks benefit the mission of the group itself. Imagine the benefits of the collaboration of church workers for a common cause – telling the world about Jesus!
- Facilitates your personal growth—Professional networks provide you with the latest news, inspiration, insights and tools that enable you to grow your gifts and talents.
- Offers assistance with daily challenges—There are people who have experienced the same challenges as you. Learn how they have overcome them.
- Helps others—You can share your knowledge and experience with others to help them in your common mission.
While there are numerous benefits of a professional network, there are different types of networks to consider.
Types of professional networks
- Small personal groups—These groups typically meet in person on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and consist of like-minded business people for the growth of businesses. Usually there is a membership fee attached.
- Open groups—Normally geographically based, these groups might be smiiliar to the makeup of a Chamber of Commerce. A wide variety of business attend these type groups to meet others.
- Closed groups—These consist of charitable organizations or community groups and have a common cause/purpose.
- Trade organizations—Specific industries meet to discuss issues effecting their businesses.
So, how can you as a church worker take advantage of a professional network?
I have found that LinkedIn, “the world’s largest professional network”, offers opportunities for me to grow personally as well as supporting the mission of the Northern Illinois District – LCMS. It’s available 24/7. And it’s FREE!
LinkedIn is based on “linking” to others you know professionally and growing your network from there.
Who you can link to
- Business/church associates
- Past/present/future co-workers
- Church workers at large
- Special interest groups
What linking provides
Individual connections enable business/church relationships to grow and prosper. It’s your “who’s who” of contacts for support. Each connection has their own gifts and talents that can be shared. And again, as church workers, we all have the same mission!
These connections also enable you to celebrate accomplishments and milestones. They encourage and raise up church workers on a daily basis.
LinkedIn can connect you with large support groups such as social media groups, communication groups, etc. These groups can provide helpful information as you grow your skill sets.
There are also special interest groups that provide support. Certain employers or educational institutions may have a LinkedIn group. Some of these groups may be private and require you to submit a request to join. However, they do provide very specific support. Members are encouraged to submit informative information as well.
The Northern Illinois District LCMS has established a group called “New Starts...New Believers.” The group assists in outreach, developing New Starts . . . New Believers. We include information on seminars, open positions, and tips on a variety of communication issues, among others.
Networking with others, sharing insights and accomplishments, allow you as an individual to more intimately be a part of a bigger group of like people—church workers—just like you with the same goals and missions. So, let’s take advance of all of the opportunities that have been given to us and be an integral part of a church worker network!
Perhaps the biggest impact for a church worker use of LinkedIn is reaching professionals who do not yet know Jesus through your posts. Do you have someone prepare your taxes? What about auto repairs? Does your neighbor manage a local business? Linking to other professionals provides you, as a church worker, an opportunity to share the Good News to those that do not yet know Jesus.
You can do this by posting blogs, news or seminars your congregation may be holding. So, let’s take advance of all of the opportunities that have been given to us and be an integral part of a church worker network!
Next time, how to get started on LinkedIn.
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