The benefit of the doubt

Published on Sep 20, 2021 by Matt Bud, The FENG

The FENG is a networking organization. I hope none of you are fooled by the volume of job leads we publish. The actual purpose of our little circle of friends is to be helpful to one another as often as possible in this struggle we all face to earn a living.

In my role as Chairman, I am always searching for ways for you to think about the many folks who might contact you from time to time with no further verification of their credentials than that they are part of our extended family.

When you are the “giver,” it is hard not to be a little suspicious of those contacting you. After all, they are asking for access to your valued business contacts. To put you a little bit at ease, let me begin with the idea that everyone who is a member was sponsored by someone who thought enough of them to invite them in. It isn’t “proof of the pudding” by any means, but it is certainly a good start. When approached to reveal your many secrets, I would encourage you to ask for the requestor to send you a resume. This easy to read document will help greatly in establishing a relationship with the person contacting you. There are data points on resumes that can be checked out. The person in question may know someone you know, even if they are not aware of it.

Again, to break the ice, all they have to do is say they are part of our august body. But, to get to the next stage, they really should provide you with the next best thing to a photo ID--their well written resume. Resumes go through a lot of editing. They have a pretty standard appearance and shouldn’t take a lot of time to review if you have it before “getting down to business.”

To build on the thesis of tonight’s editorial, I am asking you the giver to give the person contacting you the benefit of the doubt. Until you come to a stopping point or red flag of some kind, make the assumption that there is no reason on earth you wouldn’t help a fellow member of The FENG.

Since sometimes we are the hunter and sometimes the hunted, we will now put the shoe on the other foot (it was probably on the wrong foot to start with, but I digress). Instead of being the giver, you are now the recipient or supplicant (just to get you in the right mood). What nerve you have contacting someone you don’t really know and asking for a favor. (Okay, it is what we do in The FENG. You are EXPECTED to contact other members and ask for favors, safe in the knowledge that when you are contacted, you will help all who reach out to YOU.)

As a favor requestor, make sure your ducks are in a row BEFORE you make contact. Send a cover note along with a copy of your resume to set the groundwork for a productive conversation. Of course, I know you aren’t flailing wildly in all directions. You have taken the time to study the membership directory and only pull out those folks you honestly think have some background connection to you and who most likely based on that will be able to help you.

Now here is where the benefit of the doubt comes in. If the member you contact doesn’t return your call or doesn’t respond to your email, you are to assume that he is perhaps one of those members whose contact information is no longer current. You are in effect writing to the dead letter office. You are not to jump to the inappropriate and inaccurate conclusion that this person doesn’t like you, or any of the other myriad explanations we make up when we have been unable to get someone to respond to us.

You will find that giving others the benefit of the doubt is a less stressful way to live.

Assume that all members of The FENG have “gotten with the program” and are enthusiastic networkers. While wishing won’t make it so, assuming that they are will hold them to a higher standard than anything else you could do.

I hope you will all give me “the benefit of the doubt” on this outrageous idea.

Regards, Matt