In our male dominated society called The FENG, one of the biggest challenges I face on a daily basis is getting members to ask for and accept help.
I am sure we all know that traditionally guys don’t ask for directions at the gas station. It is much better to drive around and around totally lost. (Thank goodness for GPS, we don’t have that issue to face anymore. Although, since most GPS units have a female voice, we seem to be more comfortable taking directions from women these days, but I digress.)
We have a lot of very fine traditions in The FENG. While all of us would prefer to be on the giving end of favors (kind of a Godfather thing), when we first join our august body we are more likely to be on the receiving end.
Since I brought up the Godfather thing, I guess I should mention that The FENG is like the Mafia in the sense that you can join, but you can’t quit. (Honestly, I don’t know why you would, but please know that once you are accepted you are a member for life.)
Being in this for the long term, I want to assure you that you will have all the time in the world to pay back any favors you receive from your fellow members. And, to make it even easier for you to be comfortable with our free market in favors, please know that a favor granted you by a specific favor giver can be paid back to ANY member who comes your way.
What we have done is break the link of your incurring a debt to any one individual, and instead when you draw down favors you owe them to the general organization.
Let’s assume that you are currently between assignments and you need to do a little networking. You can call up all the members who have worked at firms where you have worked, whether you know them or not, and they will try to provide you with links to individuals they think can help you. You can also call up members who have worked at firms that were competitors of your firms. Or, you can call up others with your areas of expertise like Tax or Internal Audit.
It is my belief you should sent an email first and perhaps a copy of your resume to be efficient. Speech is the slowest form of communication. (Smoke signals are slower, but they honestly aren’t used much these days. Besides, setting fires is a little dangerous.) Reading an email and scanning a resume is a delightfully quick process and will enable those you contact for networking to jump right in and have a productive conversation with you.
Furthermore, with your resume in their hands, they might even be tempted to forward it on your behalf to someone they know. It really doesn’t get much better than that.
And, what do you have to do in return? All you have to do is be as gracious as those who go out of their way to help you when you needed it. Take out that welcome mat and put it on your electronic front steps and hope that you will have the opportunity to help your fellow members just as they helped you when you needed it.
The truth is that we all need help at one point or another. I want each of you to feel comfortable in seeking out the help you need and not feel bad that, at the moment, you have nothing to give in return.
Trust me, we are prepared to wait until you do.