I spoke to one of our members of long standing a few years ago who joined when we only had 100 members. Yes, I know it is hard to believe that The FENG only had 100 members as recently as 1997, but it’s true. We have indeed come a long way!
I guess I had one of my many flashbacks while I was talking to him and I began thinking about the “early days” of The FENG and what ideas caused me to adopt our 5 day a week schedule.
Having been unemployed for almost 2 full years back in 1991-1992, I personally knew the pain of being unemployed. Being as efficient as I am, I had my job search down to a science, and that unfortunately left me with a lot of time to kill. With a working wife and my children in school all day, the house was very quiet. I should point out that this was pre-Internet, so I couldn’t even surf the web all day. At times, I swear I could hear my heart beating. It was that deadly.
So, when I took over The FENG in January of 1997 and started distributing our job leads through my AOL account, I decided that as long as I had job leads to send out, I would send them out every day. What a nice surprise I thought, to sign into your email account and find a message from a good friend. (You’ve got mail!) While not every job lead was one you would consider appropriate to your background, at least you had something to chew on every day. I also included “good news” announcements to let everyone know that some of us were finding jobs, so all hope wasn’t lost.
Over time, the newsletter grew in length. During the Internet bubble, we had 30-40 members who we called “Web Watchers” who surfed the web, did a cut and paste and sent what they found to me. It wasn’t always easy to clean up the “garbage” that came in, but I came up with some useful approaches that we still use today to make what was going out presentable.
Job search can be a lonely business, even when you are working. If there is nothing else we do for each other in The FENG it is that very important function of “keeping hope alive.” To repeat a trite phrase, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” If I am to expect that everyone will keep up “the good fight” and work hard at their search, it is essential that we provide our members with something to puzzle through each and every work day. It is a grueling schedule, but I have always viewed it as something worth doing.
Each of you in your own way can work with me to “keep hope alive” by calling a few of your fellow members each and every week. I remind everyone weekly about the importance of calling a few new members, but I would encourage you to call your old time friends as well.
Aren’t there individuals you connected with who called you from time to time during your most recent search? Be honest with yourself. Have you called them recently just to check in with them?
Streets run both ways. (Although I would swear I once was on a one way dead end street in Boston, but I digress.) Buying into another person’s pain is a difficult thing to ask, but I am asking anyway. The gift of friendship may appear to be free, but it isn’t. Although it doesn’t have a price tag denominated in dollars, it requires you to give twice as much as you think you have gotten.
So reach out and touch a few members from time to time. We will continue to do our part here at “world headquarters” and keep the newsletter going out 5 days a week.