6 Steps To Go from Nobody to Networking Junkie

Networking is a big deal. Some may say it isn’t, but I’ve seen the power of it. Networking has allowed me to go from knowing nobody, to rubbing elbows with and being on a first name basis with some of the biggest names in a variety of industries. As a systems analyst I was able to use networking to go from knowing very little about computer programing to sitting in a private session with executive level leaders of the company that developed the software I was responsible for. As a children’s pastor networking allowed me to go from knowing nobody to having some of the biggest names in the industry send me personal dinner invites. As a church planter networking has allowed me to go from knowing nobody, to regular communications with some of the biggest names in that industry. As a freelance writer, networking is already allowing me to connect with some pretty awesome people, and I’m just getting started.

I’m convinced that networking can open up a wide variety of opportunities, regardless of the industry you work in or serve. So, here are 6 steps to go from networking nobody to networking ninja.

1.) Research: Seek out opportunities that already exist to connect with people in that community. In the case of my systems analyst job, such a network didn’t exist. So, I created one. However, that was in a time prior to Facebook. Here are a few options for places to find possible connections:

  • Facebook groups: Regardless of your industry, niche, hobby, or whatever, chances are there is a Facebook group for it, probably multiple. Search them out. Then go ahead and join them. In many cases you are going to have to be given permission to join the group. This can take a day or two. So, go ahead and join any group that seems like it might be within the community you are trying to connect with. You can always leave any group that isn’t fruitful at a later time. The goal right now is to find as many as possible and join them.
  • Instagram: Look for popular hashtags in your industry. You can also just do a search for your industry. These two things will bring up a long list of people and organizations in your industry. Then go and follow a bunch of them. You can also look and see who those people follow and who is following them. Then go and follow a bunch of those people too.
  • Twitter: This works similar to Instagram in how you’re going to find people in your industry and connect with them. Take another look at the instructions for Instagram and repeat them with your Twitter account.
  • Blogs: A quick google search for blogs in your industry will usually bring up a long list. Create yourself a list of blogs in the industry you are trying to connect with. There are a number of apps that will help you keep up with the blogs you are following. Pocket is what I use. Feedly is also a popular one.

2.) Connect: Once you used the information above to discover the available opportunities, connect. Join the Facebook groups. Follow people on Twitter and Instagram. Follow blogs. The goal is to begin to make connections. Send friends request to people in your industry that you find on Facebook. Like and follow their pages, as well.

3.) Observe: Spend some time watching to see the kinds of things that the people in your industry are talking about. Learn the way they communicate. For now it’s ok to be a bit of a stalker.

In Facebook groups, take some time to read the sorts of questions people are asking. Read all the posts from the past week or two, as well as all the comments. You will learn a lot about the people in the group that way. This might seem strange, but remember the goal is to, eventually, connect with the people and, as you’ll see in the next step, to add some value.

In Twitter and Instagram go to the people you connected with and go back through their posts. Again, you’re looking to learn how the people in your industry communicate, the kinds of questions they asks, and they sorts of things they talk about. Also remember to read the comments on these posts as well.

4.) Add value: Once you kinda know the industry, look for opportunities to add value. Use your experience to help people in the industry with questions or problems their facing. Remember that networking is not just about what you can get, but even more so about what you can give.

If during step 3 you come across posts that you think you can add value to, now’s the time to do it. Go back to those posts and provide some input. Remember that the goal is to help. If you can’t be respectful and truly trying to be helpful, then you are probably going to fail at this networking thing anyway. Add value, and be nice. It will get you much further.

5.) Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. They can actually help you to connect with people. I have found that, in many cases, other people had the same questions I had. I’m rarely afraid to ask a question, but many are. So, ask it for them. The people that end up answering your questions may end up being much more than just random people in some Facebook group.

6.) Go deeper: As you are reading posts, commenting, adding value, asking questions, and receiving answers begin to look for like minded people. Look for the people who keep popping up in your posts or in the posts you are commenting on. Connect with them. See if there is a relationship that can be developed and become something deeper. Send them a friend request. Send them a private message and let them know you liked their answer to a certain question or comment on a given post.

The possibilities of this system are nearly endless. I’ve seen this work in a variety of industries and in a variety of roles. I’m confident that it can work for you too, regardless of your industry. The guy that I would call my best friend is someone who I connected with through this very process. He is now someone that I am daily contact with, even though he lives hundreds of miles away.

This system has allowed me to connect with top leaders in a variety of industries to the point where I can call or email them when I have questions and often have opportunities to hang out with people I never thought I would be able to.

I’d love to hear how this system works for you.

Matt Norman

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Men: Being the Spiritual Leader of Your Family – You Gotta LOVE Your Wife

This is the second in my series on helping men become the spiritual leaders of their family. You can find the first post and links to remaining posts as they become available HERE.

I remember a story that the pastor at a church I used to attend and then served as children’s pastor told from time to time. The story was of a street preacher. You know the ones standing on a random street shouting at people as they walk or drive by. Sometimes they have a megaphone or even a speaker system. This particular street preacher used to regularly shout, “Husbands, you gotta LOVE your wife.” If you want to be the spiritual leader of your family this is one of the first things you gotta do.

You gotta LOVE your wife. Street preachers like the one in my pastor’s story can be easy to ignore. They’re kinda wild and sometimes downright obnoxious. But, in this particular case, the street preacher makes a good point. You’ve gotta LOVE your wife. It is unfair for you to expect your wife to follow you, if you don’t love her. Not only do you need to love her, she needs to know that you love her. More about that in a little bit, but for now let’s just say that you need to love your wife. If you don’t then we shouldn’t go any further.

Take time right now, and every day, to pray for God to help you love your wife more and better.

She’s number 1, well number 2, but also number one. There is a mistake I often see in families today. Things are pretty good until kids come around. Then, suddenly, the husband or wife get’s pushed to the side. Suddenly, one or the other begins to feel like a second-class citizen. I get it. the kids NEED you. They require more attention. Still, we HAVE to remember that your wife MUST remain your number one. There should be no human relationship that outranks that with your wife.

There is one relationship that must outrank your wife. That is your relationship with God. You must focus on that. I’ll talk more about that in a later post. For now let’s just say that God is number 1, but your wife comes in at a close number 2.

The best witness for your kids. As dads we often think about ways to witness to our kids. We think about how to be a good example to our kids. We want to show our sons what it means to be a Godly man. We want our daughters to see what a Godly man looks like to help them choose a Godly husband. The best way that you can witness to your kids is to love their mother. Your sons will learn that this is how you treat a woman, especially their wife. Your daughters will learn that this is how a woman should be treated, especially by her husband. Hopefully this will help our sons be better husbands and our daughters to choose better husbands.

More than words. It’s easy to tell people we love them. However, it requires WORK to show them. I’m not taking about flowers or chocolates, that’s too easy. I’m talking about doing things that show your wife that you love her. There are probably things you already that show your love for your wife. From making sure the cars are in top running condition, or that the yard is well maintained her not having to worry about these things is HUGE. But, when you do things that maybe she normally does, that’s a game changer. When was the last time you send her away and cleaned the house? Or maybe prepared dinner? Or maybe do the dishes. I’m certainly not saying that these things are HER job. But, you might be amazed at how much she appreciates you doing them.

She’s YOUR wife, not mine. Ultimately, she’s your wife, not mine. I’ve spent the last 27 years getting to know my wife. I know what it takes to make her feel loved, even if I’m not always good at doing it. You need to take the time to learn your wife. Look for the things that cause her stress. She’ll when you work to reduce that stress. Find out what she enjoys, do those things with her and help give her opportunities to do these.

Tag, you’re it. Now, it’s your turn. I’ve given you some things to think about. Now, you have to go out and do them. You’re wife will never follow you as the spiritual leader of your family if she doesn’t feel loved by you. So, first step. Learn you wife. If you don’t do that, then nothing else you do will help you become the spiritual leader of your family that you want to be.

Matt Norman

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This is What Love Looks Like

So, today is Valentines Day. I was planning to post the second in my series helping men learn how to the spiritual leaders of their families. Then life threw me a curveball. You see this past Sunday, some really unexpected things happened. Through that I got a really good idea of what true love looks like, and it looks a lot like my wife.

It ain’t about flowers or candy. These are common gifts often given on Valentines Day. Heck, there is currently a box of chocolates sitting on my dinning room table that my son intends to give to his girlfriend. But, that’s not love. Anybody can do that. Countless millions of dollars will be spent on candy and flowers this week. Sadly, many of those couples will not spend another Valentines Fay together. You can certainly get candy or flowers for the one you love and, if they are into that, then you should. BUT, that’s not the best way to show your love.

It ain’t about words either. In our society love has become nearly meaningless. We love pizza. We love cars. We love super hero movies. We love our kids. We love our spouses. When we use this one word to describe our feelings for so many different things, how can it possibly express how we feel for the most important person on Earth. That’s why expressing out love has to be so much more than simply saying, “I love you.” You should say it. You should say it often. I think you should never end a phone call or leave your spouse without saying it. BUT, it can’t end there.

So, what happened on Sunday? Well, it started like any other Sunday. We moved in all the equipment, set everything up, and started service. We sang some songs and I got up to preach. I felt perfectly fine during the message. But, as soon as I finished and walked off I started feeling bad. I started having some abdominal pain and nausea. I walked over and told Kim that I wasn’t feeling well. I was able to pray to end the service. But, that was about as far as I got.

Just a couple minutes later, as everyone else started tearing down, I looked at Kim and told her that I needed to sit down. I was having severe abdominal pain and nausea. I was pouring sweat and Kim told me I was very pale. She told me just to leave, to go home. I tried to protest because somebody had to drive the truck with the trailer. She firmly told me to leave and that she would take care of the trailer. Finally, I conceded and left.

This was just the beginning. As soon as she got home, I went to bed. She brought me socks for my cold feet. She drove me to the ER, insisting on taking me to the door and then parking. She stayed with me in the ER and waited while I went to surgery. She missed dinner in the process. She stayed with me in my hospital room as long as they would let her. She tried to make sure I drank something, but I was too doped to even try. I just wanted to sleep.

The next morning she got the kids off to school and then rejoined me at the hospital. She helped me up to the restroom. She kept me company and helped me reposition when needed. She helped me with my breakfast and lunch. She brought me some clean clothes and helped me get dressed. Man, it felt good to get some regular clothes on, instead of just the hospital gown with… everything hanging out. When it was time to leave she gathered up all our stuff. She walked with me as the nurse pushed me, in a wheelchair out of the hospital. She then rushed out to the car, driving it up to the sidewalk so I could get in. She helped me get in and then drove slowly home… perhaps the biggest sacrifice she made the whole time.

When we got home she, and out son, went above and beyond to make sure I had what I needed and that I was comfortable. When it became time for bed she helped me get into the bed… then to get out. This was quite an ordeal. She demonstrated great patience waiting on me to decide how I wanted to sleep, where, and then how to get out of the bed. When I decided I couldn’t sleep in the bed, Kim and our son rearranged furniture in order to allow me to sleep in the recliner in the living room.

The next day she cooked me breakfast and brought it to me. She then took the kids to school and came back to make sure I had everything I needed. She helped me shower. What a simple and great thing. And it just went on and on from there.

What’s love got to do it? You might look at all of this and think, what’s love got to do with it. Some may say she was just doing what any wife or husband would do. Sadly, we know that this is simply not true. There are a great many husbands and wives that would not take such good care of their spouse. They should, but some wouldn’t. That’s love. We have been together for nearly three decades. At times we REALLY get on each other’s nerves. Sometimes were do things that are simply unloving. But, when it comes down to it, we love each other and when I needed her, she REALLY stepped up.

Matt Norman

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Men: How to Be The Spiritual Leader of Your Family: Part 1

It might not be popular these days, but I truly believe that the Bible calls men to be the spiritual leaders of their family. This is not to say that men are somehow better than women. This is not say that as a man, husband, father that I out rank my wife. This is not to say that I am the boss. Rather this puts a responsibility on men to LEAD their families. But, how do we do that? What does that look like? This is part on in a series that will look at just that: How to Be The Spiritual Leader of Your Family.

This is tough. In an era when society is constantly attacking what it means to be a man, it becomes harder and hard to be the “man of the family.” I’m certainly not suggesting that we go back to a time when most women wore cute dresses and aprons and spent most of their time cleaning and other chores. I’m not saying that women need to get back into the kitchen “where they belong”. Frankly, I don’t think I could be married to June Cleaver, or Carol Brady. I LOVE that woman today are encouraged to be strong. But, what does that mean for us men? Where does that leave us? How do we lead without pushing women down?

I don’t have all the answers. I’m not even going to begin to say that I know all the answers. What I intend to offer here are some things that can move you towards being the spiritual leader of your family. I am certainly open to discussing specific questions or issues you may have. While I don’t have all the answers, I do believe that together we can discover them.

You’re NOT the boss. Again, this is not about being the boss. If you’re looking to be the boss, you probably need to read these posts, but you may need to do some soul searching first. Identify your TRUE motives and then come back and read this from a perspective of leading your family, not trying to be the boss. If, however, you are not looking to become the boss, but have a true desire to lead your family well, then keep reading cause these posts are for you.

Here is a preview of the upcoming posts in this series. As the posts become available. These will also become links to this posts.

  • You Gotta LOVE Your Wife
  • Prayer Matters
  • You Gotta Grow
  • Church Attendance Matters
  • Be Kind
  • Be the leader, not the boss
  • Don’t go it alone

Check back often to read the rest of the posts in this series.

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Matt Norman

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If You Hate My Wife, We Can’t Be Friends

There is a statement that I have told my kids many times over the years. In fact, I have told them so much that they can both quote it. Here it is:

“This is my wife. I love you, but I love her more. She was my wife before you came around, and she will be my wife after you have grown up and moved on.”

I’m certainly not trying to tell my kids that I don’t love them. I always make sure, when I say this, that they know I love them. But, what I want them to know is that I love my wife. On this earth there is no person more important that my wife, for me. In fact, there is only one relationship more important that the relationship with my wife. That relationship is with Jesus.

I say all this to say, I LOVE MY WIFE. I’m not always good at showing it, and I probably don’t say it often enough. But, I love her. I love each of you reading this, but I love my wife more. If fact, I love my wife so much that if you don’t like her we simply can’t be friends. It’s nothing personal. It’s just that my relationship with her is that much more important than my friendship with you.

Frankly, my wife is such a part of me, of who I am, that if you don’t like her, you probably won’t like me either.

You can TRULY say you love me, if you don’t also love my wife.

The funny thing is that people do this exact same thing to Jesus. It’s common to hear people say, “I love Jesus. I just don’t like the church.” The Bible calls the church the Bride of Christ. So, this statement is telling me that you love me, but hate my wife. If you hate my wife, we simply can’t be friends. So, I struggle to believe that Jesus is ok with you saying that you hate HIS bride.

What kind of relationship would that be? Imagine for a minute that you and I tried to build a friendship. We hung out some, and had some come together. Then, you met my wife. Shortly after meeting her you start talking about everything that is wrong with her. You start posting to your social media about every bad habit that my wife might have. You talk about how ugly she is. Let me be completely clear.

Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. If you did this to my wife, not only could you not be my friend, but you are going to find yourself dealing with me. I’m a nice guy. I can put up with a lot. BUT, that’s my wife and I WILL fight for her. I WILL protect her. I WILL come after you if you attack her.

Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. I am generally a pretty kind person. In fact I try very hard to be. Sadly, some people have mistaken that kindness for weakness. Many have learned that my kindness does have a limit. When that limit is reached, I can become a worthy adversary. Before you condemn me for this, or warn me against such threats, consider this. The gentle shepherd who played soothing music for a troubled king is the same person who attacked a giant with nothing but a sling and a few stones. Then, he cut the giant’s head off. You may know this shepherd as David and the giant as Goliath.

The point is, I LOVE MY WIFE. Was imperfect I as I am, I love my wife. I am willing and eager to protect her, to stand up for her, even to fight for her. If I, with all my imperfections, would love my wife in this way, how much more would Jesus, in his perfection, love HIS Bride? The Bible says that Jesus’ Bride is the church.

If you hate the church… If you’re among those people that would say they love Jesus, but hate the church I would encourage you to consider what I have written here. The church is the Bride of Christ. As such, I struggle to see how you can honestly say that you love Jesus, but hate his bride. I know that the church is flawed. The unfortunate truth is that the church is filled with people. Anytime you have all those people, there are going to be problems. I don’t say this to excuse how many of them behave. I’ll get to them in a minute. But, I would encourage you to give the church a chance. If you try one local church and it’s not a good fit for you, try another, then another, then another.

There are many different churches. While I wouldn’t encourage you to search for a church based solely on your personal preferences, I would say that if one church is not a good fit for you, there are many others. Don’t give up on the bride of Jesus so easily. I have seen how ugly church can be. I’ve experienced it. One of my goals as I started a church was to work to make it a place where there was less of the ugly stuff that I have seen. Still, some of it will probably happen.

If you are a church member or leader… If you are part of a local church you MUST remember that you are the bride of Christ. You represent Jesus. Does the way you behave reflect how Jesus would have us behave? Does how you treat people, especially people who act, look, or think different than you reflect how Jesus treated people? Do the things you say on social media reflect Jesus? Does the way you behave in public reflect Jesus? Does how you act at work reflect Jesus? I think you get the idea. You are the bride of Christ. Maybe if we remember this and behaved as if we believed it, then fewer people would think it was ok to say they love Jesus, but hate the church.

Matt Norman

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