Several years ago I spent an evening out with an old friend of mine who previously had been in the search business.
He is a very special friend. We first met in 1977 when I was Business Manager for CBS College Publishing and we have been close friends ever since. Since he lived nearby, our families also had the opportunity to bond as well. He was instrumental in my career development in that he made a point of getting me invited to leadership meetings that I am sure I would not otherwise have attended. When I was out of work in 1991 and 1992 he was in the outplacement business and as a courtesy provided me with a place to go and make phone calls.
Since 1997 when I became Chairman of The FENG, Bob was always there to listen to my stories about our august body. I know he takes pride in the fact that he “knew me when.” He also has been the source of honest information about how the rest of the world sees The FENG, as his business contacts included human resource directors as well as many fellow members of the search community.
I can tell you that all of the news about The FENG out in the world is good. We have together created an unusual organization, and this fact has not escaped the notice of the rest of the world.
While we do publish an awful lot of job leads through the willingness of our members to share leads even when they are active candidates, our core value remains networking.
Networking, as defined, is a process by which you can create meaningful business contacts and relationships to further your career and enhance your professional life. To make this possible within The FENG, we share not only our full points of contact, but also our work histories. I would venture to say that there is no other organization that provides a membership directory with such detailed information. Networking with strangers (friends you have not yet met) is never easy. However in The FENG you have so much information about potential contacts that you can very easily make a personal connection.
As I tell everyone who asks about us, The FENG is about people. While I suppose at 40,000+ members we could consider ourselves an institution of sorts, I hope we never will. The “warm fuzzy” that most of our membership feel about each other when those “strangers” call is something that only happens when we think about each other as “friends of friends.” All of us were sponsored by someone who thought enough of us to invite our participation in this “circle of friends.”
This is the magic that makes it all work. When that phone rings or that email arrives from another member of this organization I hope you will always take the time to treat it with the respect it deserves.
As those of you who share The FENG philosophy will attest, the more you give your friendship to fellow members, the greater are the many rewards you receive without asking. Ask your chapter or special interest group chair about why they do what they do and you will find that they are driven to spend the hours they do on behalf of others because it works for them. It is hard to explain, but that’s why it is magic.
If you are one of those members who hasn’t yet gotten into the spirit of what The FENG is all about, I would point out that it is NEVER too late to get started.
Remember, every day and in every way, it all starts with you.