Friendship Is Better Than Networking

The energy was electric as we walked the streets of Washington D.C., probably walking the same streets as Abraham Lincoln and other legends had walked, with the same sense of anticipation, the same stirring hope of changing the world.

Over the past two years, we have gathered IRL (online term for “In Real Life”) several times in several different cities, with smaller groups of us meeting up beyond that.

It all started just two years ago, when a new friend Mark sought me out at a large Christian conference in Atlanta. It was quite amazing to think he wanted to talk to me amongst the thousands of leaders gathered, but that is how friendships start.

A follow up call later, and an idea was born for a secret facebook group pulling together the gifted social media directors for most of the major denominations in the U.S. We decided to include some additional nonprofits that were having national influence as well. So many good people to choose from. Ultimately, I believe the people who are in are supposed to be there.

Our first gathering in L.A. felt like a bunch of close friends who hadn’t seen each other in a decade. We were like giddy school girls. The chance to hang out with people like ourselves, who understood where we were coming from, was like oxygen to a weary soul.

Each friend in that group is at the top of their game. They are individually influencing hundreds of thousands of people, or even millions. Collectively, we are a voice online for the global church. But no one knows our names. We are the men and women behind the curtain, speaking truth and life online. Publishing the gospel one tweet at a time.

Perhaps, one of the most game changing lessons I’ve learned from this group of friends is the value of friendship over networking.

You see, for years, I’ve been terrified of becoming something I didn’t want to become. Not one to turn down coffee or a meal, I’ve met all over the Twin Cities with godly and influential pastors and leaders. But several of these leaders have scared me. While they have been greatly used of God, they exhibited characteristics I never wanted to become.

Maybe you’ve met people like them? While they are doing a great work, they don’t seem to notice anyone else is doing a great work besides themselves.

You are delighted to accept their invite for lunch or dinner and share what God is doing in your life, but the meeting always somehow turns out to be about how you can serve their vision. After you leave, you question whether or not they even heard anything about where God has you.

Thanks to this group, I feel like I’ve uncovered a powerful treasure, an antidote of sorts, to this uber-networking mentality. Something that can change the game, turn it on it’s head. Here are some ideas of how you can think differently and implement this into your groups, networks, meetings and friendships:

1. Get together for the sake of friendship, not networking.

Networkers look for ways to build their rolodex. Friends look for ways to build memories.
Networkers want to see what they can get. Friends look for ways to give.
Networkers can’t wait to share their stories. Friends can’t wait to hear your stories.
Networkers bring an agenda. Friends leave their agenda at home.
Networkers always need a reason to meet. Friends meet for no other reason but friendship.
Networkers build their own little kingdom. Friends build God’s kingdom.

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Matt Brown
Matt Brown (@evangelistmatt) is an evangelist, author of Awakening and founder of Think Eternity. He and his wife Michelle are impacting millions of people with the gospel each year through live events and online. They also minister to more than a million followers on social media daily.