And see people I did. I had e-mailed or called a number of people I knew and asked them to find some time for me at GA, and nearly all had agreed.
Now, because of 7 years of youth ministry in the PCA (during which I regularly took students to large conferences), as well as knowing a lot of graduates from Covenant Seminary who were classmates, I know a substantial number of pastors and others in the PCA. This means that I can just hang out in the lobby area at GA and in a matter of minutes see someone that I know.
That said, I think that anyone-- regardless of their degree of "connection" within the PCA or another denomination-- would find the assembly of their denomination a worthwhile investment of time for the sake of connecting and networking. As I've emphasized a number of times before, the relational connections that a candidate has are among the most important aspects or factors for effective placement. In fact, I would say that this sort of "networking" is second only to a strong sense of calling in its importance to good placement.
As an example, here is a little summary of how fruitful my day at GA was today:
- I saw no less than 20 former classmates, all of whom were interested in where I was, what I was doing, and in praying for my search.
- I also saw a handful-- 3 or 4-- of the men that I regularly contact for prayer support and encouragement. All wanted to spend some time with me, encouraging me; those who weren't able to stop then and talk set up a time to visit with me.
- I met with four different people who had specific leads for me-- opportunities for me to follow up on that may be a good fit. All of these people offered to make an initial contact on my behalf, which means that I won't one more name in a sea of unknown names.
- I met with five people that mentioned other opportunities, each of whom invited me to use their name when I made initial contact with the opportunities.
- I made plans to meet with three people who had recently left positions, who were interested in helping me explore whether these opportunities would be good fits for me.
- In all, I came away with 15 new opportunities to pursue-- all in one day. By the way, many of these are not (yet) on any of the lists out there.