I love conferences! By far, the best place to meet like-minded people is at a conference. Training, product sales and networking, all happen at conferences, but my all time favorite part, which I find the most valuable, is the networking and getting to meet new people who share in my passion to be a leader of those who lead children.

Mark Harper, children’s pastor of Living Word Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, explains, “Networking is like breathing. It’s not the only thing that matters, but if you don’t do it, you won’t last very long.” For me, it’s where work and friendships get beautiful.

On the last Monday of the month, you will find 4 – 20 Preschool Directors from Cobb and Cherokee counties gathering at the Cherokee Cattle Company in Marietta at 1pm. I have been a part of this networking lunch group for more than 8 years – for as long as I’ve been serving in preschool director heaven. This luncheon is a true priority for me. We have shared not only our professional concerns, but also tears and laughter over families, retirement, preschools opening, preschools closing, continuing education, grandbabies, and sons- and daughters-in-law. I can’t imagine not gathering with these lovely ladies. We usually have a leadership topic to discuss relating to preschool or Christian edcucation, which we share while we eat. And we laugh. We laugh a lot.

On the first Tuesday of the month, I also attend a lunchtime networking group specific to Christian Education in Canton at 1pm at the O’Charley’s Restaurant on Riverstone Parkway. We’ve been getting together for more than 2 years. We don’t meet in January because most of us have begun to attend the Children’s Pastor’s Conference together. We, too, discuss a leadership topic, but sometimes we just pray and share life together. This month’s topic: “How do you incorporate the danger element in Christian Education in your church?” It ought to be interesting, to say the least.

It’s easy to begin a networking group. Call a couple of other leaders in your area of interest and plan a lunch to get together. Have a start time and an ending time. Come prepared with a few written questions to ask one another. In your conversation, think of the other leader first. What can you do to help him or her? Then, listen more and talk less.

Due to the interest of those who are serving in their home churches in Christian Education in North Atlanta, but work fulltime elsewhere, I will begin an evening networking group in April. Let me know if you’d like to be included.

Harper goes on to share that “God works through relationships. When networking is done right, everybody wins. Sometimes meeting new people can be a little scary, but the benefits are out of this world!”