On the way down to Washington, DC a few years ago to speak at the chapter meeting, I had the distinct opportunity and pleasure to sit with one of our esteemed Co-Chairs of The FENG, Bruce Lynn for several hours. Most people don’t know this about Bruce, but among his many talents is running well thought out surveys of our members.
The answers to most of his survey questions weren’t too alarming or surprising. However, one stood out. Almost 75% of our members haven’t been to a chapter meeting in the past 6 months.
I could lecture all of you about the hard work our chapter chairs put into finding speakers and finding meeting space, not to mention all the time they take out of their schedules to make this all happen, but I know that line of reasoning is likely to go nowhere. (It’s always about you.)
Instead, let me take your point of view and ask exactly what you are doing that you are placing as a higher priority than meeting some of the nicest and most helpful people in the entire world? I am, of course, referring to your fellow members of The FENG.
Several years ago, a member of the Westport chapter who I knew was very senior level guy, rarely missed one of our chapter meetings when he was out of work. Although I was pleasantly surprised at his perfect attendance, I violated the lawyer’s rule (never ask a question to which you don’t already know the answer) and inquired what he thought he was getting out of always being there.
His answer surprised me a bit. He said: If I stay home, I can be guaranteed that I won’t meet anyone who can help me. If I attend, there is a possibility I will. It’s as simple as that.
As Woody Allen is reported to have said: 90% of life is just showing up. And to quote Forrest Gump: Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.
Although from reading the meeting announcements in our newsletter, I know there are lots of interesting and helpful topics being discussed at our meetings, the more important aspect is the opportunity to meet and greet your fellow members. These are people who are going through exactly what you are going through each and every day. The highs and lows. The joys and sorrows.
No one ever has enough friends. And, the best way to make a few new friends is to attend your local chapter meetings on a regular basis. The benefits to you can be huge.
Where else can you find a more receptive audience on which to practice your 90-second announcement? Haven’t you gotten tired of practicing in front of a mirror? Like a good stand-up comic, you need to try out your material. When the moment comes in that interview when they say: Tell me about yourself. You don’t want that to be the first time. Honing your presentation takes time and practice.
Are your writing skills a little weak, at least with respect to writing about yourself? Although I would argue that no one can write your resume as well as you can, even great authors have revered editors who help them take out unnecessary words and clarify their ideas. You can volunteer to exchange resumes with anyone you connect with at one of our meetings and help them rewrite theirs if they help you rewrite yours. (Is this a fair deal, or what?)
Listen, you went out and bought a new suit, a few new shirts and few new ties so you would look nice when you went out on those interviews. A chapter meeting is an opportunity to show off those new threads.
If you have been out for the day, you are already all dressed up. If you haven’t been out all day, this is your big opportunity to put on those grown up clothes, AND you DO have some place to go.
If you don’t go, you’ll never know what you missed.