Did your mother ever tell you, “Never judge a book by its cover”? Well, as it turns out, that’s great networking advice and great advice for anyone looking to make friends.
About five years ago, I made a new friend. One of the pastors at my church introduced Brandyn to our congregation. During the worship service, he declared, “And, for your information, Brandyn is single. So if you know any young ladies who are available…”
All the pastor needed to tell us was that Brandyn was to be the new missions intern. But, for some reason, he felt led to share that personal information with all 1,500 of us. I felt sorry for the guy, even though I’d never met him.
Needless to say, when I ran into him about an hour later, I wanted to cheer him up. Some friends and I were heading out to lunch. So I invited him to join us.
I’m glad I did.
At lunch, Brandyn was a thoughtful listener who asked good questions. He was easy to talk to and funny. I liked the guy at once.
We started hanging out more. Brandyn and I had a lot of the same friends. But there were a few of my friends he didn’t know at first. One of them caught his eye and is now his wife.
That was a win for Brandyn. But he wasn’t the only one to benefit from our relationship.
A couple months later, he invited me and a couple of other guys to rent a house with him. The property belonged to his family’s business. It was the most inexpensive rent I’ve ever paid.
With the house came more opportunities to make friends. Brandyn and the other two guys were the kinds of buddies I could laugh, pray, and cry with. They challenged and inspired me. As a result, I grew in my spiritual, social, physical, and romantic life.
Yes, it was while I lived with Brandyn that all four of us guys got engaged within a year and a half of one another. In my dad’s words, we “spurred one another on toward love and good deeds – but mainly love.”
Thanks to Brandyn, I got out of my comfort zone and out of our country too. He invited me on a short-term mission trip. Together, we endured a 16-hour flight, taught English to Khmer speakers, and rode on the back of an elephant.
That trip opened my eyes to the world. I saw poverty like I’d never seen before. But I also beheld out-of-this-world beauty and cultural riches the likes of which I’d never seen before.
My relationship with Brandyn has proved to be way more than worth its weight in gold. Though he’s since moved overseas, we’re still friends. And I’m so thankful that I went ahead and asked him to join me for lunch.
So what’s the key networking lesson here?
It’s this: Never overlook or underestimate a potential relationship. It might be one of the best you’ll ever have, and it will go a long way in helping you make friends.