I am sure that I don’t need to repeat the fable of the goose that laid golden eggs, so I will move right into the analogy.
The goose is The FENG (also a living organism) and the golden eggs are the ability to network with other members. (If networking isn’t true gold, I don’t know what is.)
In order to keep our goose laying golden eggs, all we have to do is treat it well. And, that is why I always recommend being VERY selective in developing your mailing lists of your fellow members of our august body.
We need to exercise due care because what might appear to save you time can easily diminish the value of our circle of friends to other members.
Let me explain. For those of you familiar with the use of mailing lists, you know that the quickest way to burn out a list is to use it too frequently. The same is true of our membership directory. Our Member Directory Search feature is certainly there for your use. In fact, I encourage it. And, it is hard for me to judge if you are using it to excess or not enough.
Many members are not using this feature at all, and that concerns me more than those who might at times inadvertently abuse the access our membership directory provides them.
Sometimes you have to get a little sneaky about it, but with very little effort, you can usually find all of the old friends and new friends you need to do a proper job search using this tool.
But, let’s get back to our “parable for modern times.” If you think about it, the gift we give each other so freely in The FENG is our accessibility. Published in the directory for the use of other members is our work history and contact information. I hope that all of you expect and welcome communications from other members. Our connectivity is what NETWORKING is all about.
I would also suggest that invariably you benefit when contacted by another member. They may be the ones asking for a favor, but the granting of favors is kind of fun. In addition, it more often than not gives you a needed reason to contact an old friend.
The trick here, like most things in life, is to strike a proper balance. I know that with 40,000+ members it is hard to THINK about The FENG remaining as friendly as Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, but part of this great experiment in networking is all of us being committed to TRYING to keep it that way.
Although all of us are financial types, the truth is that networking with everybody doesn’t work anyway. We need to focus on those others within our circle of friends who are just like us. As Bob Walker, Co-Chair of our Dallas chapter would say: “Look for your mirror.” Okay, very few members are going to be as handsome as you are, but we are talking here about skill sets.
Our individual backgrounds are complex. Seeking out those with comparable life experiences just makes perfect sense. These are the folks who can really understand you. And, because they do, they are more likely to make introductions for you that will make the best use of your time.
Most members of The FENG will try to be helpful. Even if you flail around and strike off in all directions at once, many of the dedicated members who make up this organization will TAKE THE TIME to try and understand how they can help.
But, to the degree that you haven’t taken the time to be selective, you are in a very real sense BURNING OUT OUR LIST. Not only will you be wasting the time of those you contact, but they will be wasting your time as well by sending yourself off in inappropriate directions. (Not intentionally of course.)
The reason mailing lists are so expensive is that they are hard to compile. The investment you make in combing through our directory will pay big dividends for you, and if done properly will actually ENHANCE the value of our membership list to others. Hard to believe, but true. If you contact the right folks they will welcome more calls from others. If you prepare for those contacts by being selective and clear in your communications, everybody wins.
Directories are everywhere these days. I have had several discussions with members about services who claim they have the ability to mass mail your resume and cover letter to thousands of potential employers. On the face of it, you should all know and understand that this can’t possibly work.
If you are specialized or localized, there are directories out there, often at low cost. You can then take these lists and compare them painstakingly to our membership directories to see if one of our members has worked at a company of interest. With our membership, the odds are VERY high that you will get a hit almost every time.
So have at it. Networking, networking and more networking IS what we do. Just remember that keeping the goose healthy is our number one priority. After all, I wouldn’t want our goose to be cooked. But, I digress.