Since about 90% of our membership is male, I hope no one will be offended if I let you all in on a little secret – most men don’t have a lot of friends. I am not altogether certain why that is, but it really doesn’t matter because making new friends is actually a lot easier than most people think.
If you think about all of the folks that you have gotten close to over the years, I am sure you will find some common elements in their characteristics versus yours. Sometimes it is a “birds of a feather flock together” thing and sometimes it is more like “opposites attract.”
The point is no one really knows why couples fall in love any more than they know why people become close friends. There are as many consistencies as there are inconsistencies and at the end of the day, who cares?
Being active in your job search requires you to compete with others. In societies other than The FENG, this could lead to a lot of conflicts. Perhaps some folks do find themselves pulling away from others out of a fear that they will reveal some important secret, but the truth is something different. The enemy isn’t those competing against you as much as it is ANY of us being considered who are “over qualified,” “unemployed” or “over compensated.” So, I suggest you band together against the common enemy – the outside world – and not each other.
In this moral equivalent of war (if I may steal a phrase from Jimmy Carter), any excuse will do in your efforts to connect with other members. “Nice tie” should work just as well in introducing yourself to another member as “I see you are also in Treasury.”
The key to success in making new friends is the idea that “someone has to go first.” The first gesture has to come from one of the two parties, and I am suggesting that each of you try it and see if it works for you.
Let’s assume you spot a job lead in the newsletter that may or may not be a good fit for someone you met at one of our meetings. Take time out of your day and make a phone call. Sure, there’s a risk he/she has already seen it. There’s a risk that it won’t be a fit. There is also the risk that this act of friendship will be well received and you will, by reason of this “no cost” act be at the beginning of what is sometimes referred to as “a beautiful friendship.” (I know the no cost aspect of this suggestion will appeal to all us financial types!)
Just as you set goals for yourself with regard to networking contacts, job leads answered, or telephone calls made, set a goal for the making of new friends. After you have found some folks who provide you with an initial sense of success, build on those friendships. (Alas, you may have to go first several times, even with the same friend.)
The only time “any excuse will do” is unacceptable is when it comes to giving up. I hope you will instead use this idea to find and retain relationships for the rest of your life.