As I hope all of you know, The FENG is not a fee for service. Our most important “folkway” is that in order to be accepted as a new member, you either need to have a sponsor, or you need to find one.
As Chairman since 1996, I take the time each and every week to review new member applicants, and I don’t accept everyone. Clearly you have to be a Chief Financial Officer, Controller, Treasurer or one of many other titles that mark you as a senior level financial officer. That said you don’t have to have a sponsor at the time you apply.
No one who is qualified is ever turned away. If you qualify for membership, one of our very capable Administrative Assistants will send you a list of 5 names that you are expected to contact. Why do we do this, you may ask? Surely if someone is added to our membership they will start networking and obviously make a lot of new friends.
Think of us forcing you to find a sponsor as a way of “kick starting” your networking process. Networking requires you to put yourself in the debt of others. If you were fortunate to have a sponsor when you first applied, it might not have been totally clear to you at the time the great gift that was being bestowed upon you. I hope it is now.
Being willing to call upon individuals you don’t yet know and be bold enough to ask for a favor is not an easy thing. The power of that experience is that no one has ever died from it. And, more importantly, anyone who has been through it has learned of the generous nature of people in general.
The importance of requiring a sponsor is the critical element in the success of The FENG. Other organizations publish job leads. Other organizations publish or allow their membership directories to be searched. We are unique in requiring our members to take responsibility for those they sponsor.
Although it is a lot, it is not enough to say to a friend, please use my name. Job search is a scary thing. We have all been plunged at one time or another into the cold waters of a job search. It is a time filled with uncertainty. Friends you counted on prove to be unhelpful and frequently don’t even return your phone calls. It is into this world that we welcome our new members each week into our society of friends.
From one or two people who “vouch” for you, we hope that as a new member you will enjoy the great benefit of our membership directory and find ALL of your old friends. We also hope you will make new friends each and every week. It is vital that you constantly build what I refer to as your “inner circle of friends.”
Your initial sponsor or sponsors have a responsibility to explain the unexplainable process of networking within The FENG and also to provide you with some coaching with respect to the basic tools of 90-second announcements, resumes and cover letters. While there are many fine books on all of these easily solvable issues, it is best if a friend takes you through the process.
Only a friend who has, as they say “walked a mile in your shoes,” can understand the stress you feel and how best to address it.
I often refer to what I do when I speak to new members as “the Dumbo feather syndrome.” Although you have called on me for my advice and counsel, and although I take your questions seriously and thoughtfully try to address them, I know in my heart of hearts that you don’t really need my help. What I mean by this is that you are all mature adults who have worked for over twenty years, accomplished a great deal and typically earned a lot of money. Once you get a “grip on yourself,” you will be just fine.
That in a nutshell is what a sponsor needs to do for those they bring into our “little family.”
Once you get them through the initial crisis, a pat on the back at times, a kick in the butt at other times, will all serve to make the friend you thought well enough of to invite into our organization and get them “off to the races.”
I know I can count on all of you to take your sponsorship responsibilities seriously, because from the emails I get, I know you do.