In our Simple Skills for Success books (for men and women) we share a quote we have said hundreds of times to our own children as well as everyone we have lead or mentored:
Quality attracts quality. Be a quality person and you will attract quality people.
This principle is also true in relationships between author and audience, and speaker and meeting planner. I have sat on both sides of an event desk: 1) as the Pastor’s wife and Director of Women’s Ministry hosting an event and 2) as the Guest Communicator speaking at an event. One of the items authors sometimes forget is that meeting planners are people too. They are not just targets to convince to have you in to speak. They are not a territory to conquer, rather, they are the first people God wants you to minister to.
In Becoming a Brave New Woman, I try to capture the heart of networking:
“Networking is typically seen as the making and using of relationships for one’s personal gain, a kind of “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” mentality. The Christian, however, is challenged to a higher standard: “If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, be the servant of all,” and “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).”
Try to build rapport with potential clients, by seeing them as your first ministry assignment. Let’s look at a simple 4 step process that might open a few more doors for you, but more importantly, will keep a few more leaders in service to our Lord:
Care: This begins in YOUR heart and schedule. Make time to pray over church leader lists, or church websites staff lists. Talk to God before you talk to a potential client. Ask God to help you serve the leaders you might meet or have contact with.
Converse: If you are networking in person, become a great listener. Ask questions about them and their ministry and life before you start talking about your newest project. Listen for clues about his or her life. Or ask a few questions to see if you can discern answers to a few questions like:
- Are they married, single, widowed, divorced, newlywed?
- Are they parent or grandparent?
- Stressed at work? Home? In community? At church?
- Do they do this full time, part time, as a volunteer?
- Is there age a variable? (new to role, seasoned, tired, successful, savvy?)
Collect: As soon as possible, record data you have learned in a way you can remember or recall vital information. One of the basics is to ask for a business card or contact information. Make a few notes about them as a leader and person on the back of their card, or use a business card AP to log info digitally, or use your Outlook contacts to log info. You might think you will remember, but you met many people so details will easily slip from your mind. If on the phone, keep a pen and paper next to you to jot notes.
Connect: After a conversation, if possible, send them an email or greeting card and remember to again ask about something/ someone they care about. Compliment them in an area they have expressed might be important to them, or share a verse you have prayed for one of the concerns shared. If you met them digitally or by phone, consider looking them up on LinkedIn, Facebook, or their church website and find a photo and pray for them as you see their face. You might consider sending a small thoughtful gift, or card.
Since I write on marriage and relationships, I will often send a complimentary book package for their own marriage, but with a fun twist, for example, our book Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti with a package of pasta and a package of waffle mix tied with a bow. I have also sent wedding gifts to their grown kids who are marrying, or a personal growth book to them for a teen or college student they might have asked me to pray for.
By noting their age, you can send a small “thank you for your time” gift. For example, if they are over 40, I will sometimes send a menopause mama package: My book 10 Secrets of Living Smart, Savvy and Strong with a fan tagged with “You are “fantastic” or praying you have a “fantastic year”. My husband, in his role as a pastor, has received gift cards for coffee from potential speakers because they will usually learn of his love for java in the first conversation! When accompanied with a short note with a sentiment like, “Thanks for working so hard for God’s Kingdom” or “Was thinking about that building project, how is it going?” Those notes with the gift card helped that person rise to the surface in a sea of speakers.
You might think the expense adds up, but I have seen kindness and thoughtfulness more than pays for itself. It might take a while but if you sow seeds of kindness, you will reap a harvest of consideration. However, if money is tight, sometimes just a thoughtful gesture like forwarding an article, or having a leadership tool you share that will make their life easier will be appreciated. A digital gift is no out of pocket expense but the leader will note the gift of your time as a kind gesture too. Everyone likes to be remembered, so seek to forge friendships between events or interactions. Here are a few ideas:
- Minister to them between events with helps for their next event
- Minister to them as a person with anything to make their life easier
- Minister to their family and friends with gifts to strengthen relationships
- Minister to their circle of influence by creating tools to build his or her team
- Minister with additional helps and tools for their success as a leader.
In my book Becoming a Brave New Woman, I share about the power of networking. One of my favorite quotes that serves as a reminder to me is a sentence from a motivational image:
TEAM = Together Everyone Achieves More
Team up with the leaders you speak for by building their ministry by building THEM as leaders.