It’s Not What You Know

It’s who you know that counts.

I couldn’t agree more.

Looking at my previous jobs, I got ALL of my professional ministry jobs because of a personal connection: a college or seminary professor, a former classmate, a ministry colleague, a friend of a friend. In fact, I have completed only two “cold” applications or interviews in the last 22 years. That’s almost 20 jobs thanks to connections.

While I’d like to think that I have possessed a certain level of competence necessary for each job, I believe that connections can often trump competence. In many cases in my job history, people noticed my work, like what they saw, and asked me to work for them. But in others, I was given a first chance because someone knew me. I had potential, but no proven track record. Someone who knew me — or who knew someone else who knew me — was willing to take a risk on that potential. I’ve seen others who are also hired or promoted beyond their education or experience, because of a personal connection.

People don’t pay Harvard tuition for a superior education. Don’t kid yourself: $60,000 does not buy you an education that is $40,000 better than your in-state university. What people are paying for is the network: the political, business, academic, and other professional connections that will give you a head start or a leg up or a foot in the door or whatever other body part you need to land the job you want.

The lesson: Nurture your connections. But not in a sell-yourself, huckster-ish way. Take a genuine interest in others. Love people, be generous and be gracious. Meanwhile, work hard and prove yourself in the little things. Don’t expect a handout, but don’t underestimate the importance of connections.


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