EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

I have never considered myself a social butterfly, but I guess for many of us financial types it is difficult to start a conversation with someone we don’t know.

If you give a little thought to conversations you have had over your life with people not known to you, you will fondly remember the favorite topic most of those discussions began with was the weather. (As you know, everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it, but I digress.)

If weather isn’t the chosen topic, traffic, sports (How about those Yankees?) will all suffice. Religion and politics are generally not good ideas for conversation openers with strangers.

I suppose the reason that one might start out this way is that it takes some amount of time to get comfortable with another human being and the best way to do that is picking some non-threatening subject. Hard to argue about the weather even when asked: Hot enough for you?

Networking calls are, of course, the driving force in The FENG. How does one pick up that 400 pound phone and dial the number without getting a stress attack? The short answer is preparation, preparation and more preparation.

The process for either your fellow members or those they have sent you to is to drop in a little artillery before you call. The weapon of choice is email. Email is the power tool of our generation. I have found that I don’t print these messages and wait for your call anymore. All I do is read briefly and when you call, I first ask you for your email address. This tool also makes it so easy for me to help you by forwarding your message or one of my own to “every man, women and child on the face of the earth.” Just kidding. I will only send it to a few of my closest 40,000+ friends. Again, just kidding. Just as you have been selective in contacting me, I will try to be selective in contacting others on your behalf.

And what do you think should be attached to this preliminary message? Why your resume, of course. After your 90-second announcement, it is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. It will also save us both a tremendous amount of time in your explaining your background to me. (Reading is such an important skill.)

And now for the text of the message. A simple statement as to why you are calling me is always nice. A brief statement of your life and what it is all about, and perhaps a few target companies so I will have my head on straight when you call. (Here is where a written 90-second announcement would be helpful. Let not forget the subject. (“Hi” is not a good idea, nor is “Your loan has been approved”) If it is a fellow member, you might want “The FENG” somewhere in the subject.

And now as you dial the phone, I hope you can relax a bit. All you have to do to get started is say your name and mention that you have written and we can move quickly through the mandatory weather, traffic and sports discussion and get to the meat of why we are talking:

NETWORKING, NETWORKING AND MORE NETWORKING.

Not to worry. You’ll do fine.

Regards, Matt

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