For those of you who are new to the networking process or who claim to not be very good at it, please know that even I am still learning.
Friends are always in short supply, especially when it comes to managing your career. But, unlike all the consumer goods available just by taking out your credit card or writing out a check, you have to pay for friendship by giving of yourself. It is often a more costly process than most people imagine, but one well worth the expense.
All I can do in tonight’s editorial is to share what I believe are a few truths about the process.
Let me start with the care and feeding of old friends. Every day, without fail, set aside at least 15 minutes to call a few of these folks. If you want to be a compulsive about it, and that is the nature of us financial types, don’t be embarrassed about it. Make a list of everyone you should be contacting on a routine basis, sort it by time zone and depending on the time of day that your spare 15 minutes happens CALL SOMEONE. What will you talk about? The weather, your job, their job, your children, their children, etc., etc. I suppose small talk is an art form, but anything you do a lot of you will get better at.
If you aren’t in touch with “friends” on a regular basis, you honestly aren’t much of a friend. Don’t be the kind of person who only calls when they need something. Calling just to say hello is an act of friendship that won’t be long forgotten.
Most of you are probably more interested in creating a larger “inner circle” of friends. This process is also one shrouded in mystery, but doesn’t need to be. Hard to know how the rest of the world might approach this, but you as a member of The FENG have a list of 40,000+ friends to get you started. All you have to do is sign into our website and use our Member Directory Search feature.
Long lost friends are the best, but next best are folks who might know you or know of you. By looking up every firm at which you worked, you will find individuals who know what you have been through in the world of work. If you send them a short note of introduction with a copy of your resume and invite them to write back, a large enough percentage will respond that you will be well on your way.
Please don’t expect EVERYONE to write back. That never happens. If you don’t actually know the folks you are contacting, the key is to be brief as to when you were there and to perhaps mention a few friends with whom you worked. Everyone knows the “rascals” of the organization and sharing stories about them is great sport.
Because of the instant rapport you can have from these kinds of contacts, it is easy to get appropriate secondary networking contacts. They know who you are and what you know how to do and they therefore know who else might find you interesting as a potential friend.
As you expand your circle of friends, remember the obligation you are incurring to stay in touch. Friendship builds on friendships. As you meet new people, introduce them to your “older” friends. Life is a circle. Many people you click with will click with your existing base of friends. It is a surprising, but amazing phenomenon.
No one ever has enough friends. Even I continue to renew old acquaintances and develop new friendships with people every week.
It really is more fun than anyone should be allowed to have.