According to a survey that Bruce Lynn completed late last year, only about 30% of our members have ever been to a chapter meeting.
In a word, those of you who have never attended a meeting of The FENG are missing out big time. (And no, we don’t wear funny hats or actually have a secret handshake. That is just an ugly rumor.)
Chapter meetings are the friendliest gatherings of human beings that you as a member of The FENG can ever imagine. And, to make them even friendlier, we have created a series of tools on our website to make your meeting experience as beneficial as possible.
As they say, you can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make him/her drink. So, all I am going to do here is bring you to the water and tell you how good it is.
The first point is that our meeting RSVP system puts at your disposal a very important tool: A meeting attendance list with every attendee’s full directory listing.
Now I know your next question is, Matt, how should I use this very important tool? Friends, if you are going to bother putting on your best clothes and dragging yourself out to a chapter meeting, getting the most out of this experience is all in the preparation.
Space is limited at some of our meetings, so step one is to register ASAP after you see the meeting announcement. Actually you don’t have to wait. You can go out to the website and preregister for all the meetings listed there. Once the meeting date gets close, go back out to the website and download a meeting attendance list.
Our meeting attendance lists, like the custom directories you can create using our Member Directory Search feature are Word documents. They are searchable, but not sortable. Since we aren’t talking about all that many people, perhaps 80 tops, print it out so you can read it easily.
Now go through it person by person and mark all the folks that you would like to connect with. Hard to say what the best criteria might be. Companies where folks have worked previously and Special Interest Group selections are good starting points. Perhaps you will spot someone from your neighborhood. (Two members of The FENG actually live on my street in Weston!) Only you know what is best for you, and that is why I suggest you give this directory a hard read.
Since it is a few days before the meeting, think if any of your friends from The FENG haven’t registered. Now is a good time to call them up and encourage them to attend. Nothing builds friendships like gestures of this kind.
If you see someone on the list that you really want to meet, may I encourage you not to be bashful? You are planning to attend and they are planning to attend. Why don’t you either send them an email suggesting you connect at the meeting, or if you are really brave, give them a call?
The next step in your preparation is to have enough resumes to pass around. This is one of our rituals at the meeting, wallpapering your fellow members. No more excuses that you didn’t bring enough copies. The day before the meeting, check to see how many folks will be showing up.
The final step is to prepare a 90-second announcement. 90-second announcements need to be practiced in front of a live audience, preferably a friendly one, and there is nothing friendlier than a meeting of The FENG. All those folks with those funny hats with the fangs hanging down couldn’t be friendlier – oops, I forgot we don’t wear silly hats.
Do write down your thoughts about what you want to say. Remember the rule of threes. Most people can only remember 3 major ideas. What are the three most important things about you that you want people to be able to repeat to others? That is the approach to keep in mind.
If there aren’t any chapter meetings listed where you live, this is another opportunity for you NOT to be bashful. Why don’t you volunteer to either get a chapter started or restarted? (Yes, there are cities in the civilized world where we don’t have a chapter, but you can fix that.) Bruce Lynn can be reached at BruceLynn@TheFENG.org if you want to start or restart a chapter. Just be aware that we never let a volunteer get away.
The FENG is all about preparing you to network with the outside world as well. All of the above tools are applicable for any networking meeting. Once you do it within our little family, you will feel better prepared for all those meetings with strangers.