Have you ever attended (or considered attending) one of those business “networking” groups? If you have not (attended) or don’t know what they are, please allow a short introduction.
Wikipedia, that bulwark of dependable information, defines “Business Networking” as, “a type of business social network whose reason for existing is business networking activity. “
The Small Business Canada web site says:
The purpose of business networking is to increase business revenue – one way or another. The thickening of the bottom line can be immediately apparent, as in developing a relationship with a new client, or develop over time, as in learning a new business skill. (http://sbinfocanada.about.com/cs/marketing/g/busnetworking.htm)
Last, but certainly not least, according to the Entrepreneur magazine web site: There are at least six types of business organizations to consider joining:
- Casual Contact Networks
- Strong Contact Networks
- Community Service Clubs
- Professional Associations
- Social/Business Organizations
- Women’s Business Organizations
Entrepreneur’s definitions of the different types of “networking” groups listed above, are “self-defining” (except for the first two). The main difference between “Casual” and “Strong” groups is determined by who is allowed to attend and frequency of meeting. Casual groups typically meet monthly whereas Strong groups meet weekly. And, Casual groups usually allow any number of attendees of overlapping-professions. Whereas Strong groups restrict membership to one person per profession or specialty.
As a Christian, I have been perplexed, even conflicted, by the business networking groups I have attended. There is a prominent “what have you done for me, lately?” tone that permeates the meeting and the group. To be sure, the Web site of BNI International notates that BNI was founded on the idea that “Givers Gain: By giving business to others, you will get business in return”. That said, the “giving” part is often under-emphasized (at best), while “shameless self-promotion” is the order of the day.
My company (Sixthday Sportsmen Magazine) is not the kind of business that naturally lends itself to the type of referrals exchanged in the typical networking group. Those “referrals” work very well for Real Estate, Investing, Home Remodeling, Accounting, Plumbing, etc., not so much for a Bible-based, Christ-centered outdoors magazine. At my last group, I was donating three hours in the middle of my work week (with drive time) to hearing a three minute “education” spot (which – to be sure – was always good) and to hear the other members share their “30 second commercials” of shameless self-promotion”.
By contrast, I have occasional breakfast meetings at a local restaurant in which it is no surprise to see two or more groups meeting over breakfast or coffee while having a Bible study and/or fellowship.
So, then, there apparently only two choices? (1) Meet for the benefit of business – ONLY . . . OR . . . (2) meet for the benefit of spiritual growth – ONLY.
Recently this question occurred to me – WHY? Why do business networking meetings have to be an “all-or-none” / “one-or-the-other” proposition? Why do business meetings have to be ALL about / ONLY about the “bottom-line”? Why do Christian fellowship/Bible Studies have to be ALL about / ONLY about personal spiritual growth? Why can’t we do both?
In fact – we can. Remember the incident in the Bible in which Jesus “discussed” with the Pharisees how they were keeping their religious practices (cleaning the cup, giving alms, tithing of “mint and rue and every herb”) while they were at the very same time “neglect(ing) justice and (the) love of God” (Luke 11:39-42 ESV). The very point Jesus was making was that we ought not trade one good thing for another.
It reminds me of the age-old question that goes something like this, “What is the higher priority? To be a good (parent / spouse) or to be a good (employer / employee)?
The proper answer to that question is a resounding “YES”. Get it? Jesus didn’t tell the Pharisees to stop doing what they were doing and replace it with something else. He told to keep doing the good they were doing without neglecting doing other good things.
In that context, let’s consider a variation of our original question: What is more important: To be a good business person or a good follower of Christ? The proper answer to that question is a resounding “Yes”. Because – With God, priorities do not conflict.
So then, is there a way and/or a place that I can grow my business and grow my faith?
Let me introduce you to Potter’s Network (www.pottersnetwork.com).
The Mission of Potter’s Network: “The mission of Potter’s Network is to connect Christians in business relationships through networking events, workshops, and partnerships with other organizations.”
The Vision of Potter’s Network: “Desiring to be a central forum for Christian Businesses, churches and ministry representatives to network and do business together; while providing a testimony of integrity and professional excellence founded on Biblical principles to everyone.”
To that end, we are extremely excited to introduce and invite you to Potter’s Network “Triple I” meetings. We will meet together Involve, Inspire and Increase, ourselves and our businesses.
Involve: Meet and know one another with the purpose of helping grow one-another’s businesses and promote spiritual maturity.
Inspire: By exchanging ideas we will inspire and encourage one-another in both our business “best practices” and in “growing in the grace an knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:18 ESV).
Increase: As a result of combining the two ideas above, we increase not only our businesses, but the sphere of influence that comes with professional and personal maturity.
In the weeks to come Potter’s Network Triple I Groups with be starting in Peoria, Morton, Eureka and Bloomington.
For more information, answers to questions or just to get involved, look for future posts / emails right here. Or, call Micheal Kalm at 309-840-2428.