EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

One of the biggest half-truths in this world is the idea of saving your business contacts. The truth is that unless you “work” your business contacts they don’t know you exist.

Sure, you don’t want to “bother” them, but unless you call once in a while with something they actually can do for you, or something you can actually do for them, what are you saving them for?

The approach I am going to suggest to you will not only yield those hidden jobs for all of us, they will also make you a lot of friends (at least within The FENG), mutually make you aware of jobs about which you would otherwise never have heard (from others), and keep your background in front of those who know and respect you. These same individuals have promised to keep you in mind, but as you are well aware, the world of work is a busy place, and although they “love” you, they have things to do.

The problem with calling business contacts who know and love you too often about yourself is what I call the “death in the family syndrome.” Because they fear disappointing you or saying the wrong thing at this very sensitive time, they don’t call you back. I know it sounds bizarre that friends don’t call back, but heck, this “disease” you have could be catching and talking to you reminds me that I might have to face the same situation.

The key to success is the message you leave. (I don’t know about you, but it does usually take a few calls to connect with busy people.)

If you are networking within and without The FENG, you should have lots of friends you can introduce to your business contacts. Every time you talk to anyone in your inner circle of friends, your brain should be buzzing with the names of others you know to whom you can introduce them. Don’t pass off this work to them with the idea that you’re too busy with your own search, because it takes you out of the direct equation and makes it less likely that the conversation will turn to you.

So, here is the message: Hi Bob, it’s Matt. I was networking this past week and I had a long and engaging conversation with Joe Smith, formerly with one of your competitors. Of course he would like to meet with you to see if there are associates of yours at the company to whom you might be able to introduce him, but given his background, I think there would be value to you as well in meeting him. Why don’t you give me a call and I will tell you more about him.

Okay, you have now taken the proposed conversation to a different level. In calling you back, if Bob has to decline assistance to Joe Smith, or if he sees him and nothing happens, he isn’t personally disappointing YOU. There is a little less stress in the situation for Bob, and if you play your cards well, you will get BOB into a long and engaging conversation which towards the end will be about YOU.

It is much easier to get your business contacts to help YOU if they are relaxed. And with this approach, you have created a REAL pretext (Is this an oxymoron or what?) for them to talk to you.

Our goal as an organization is not who can find the most public job postings, but rather who can find the most hidden job opportunities, and this is how it is done.

The truth is that we are typically too over qualified and too over compensated for any rational search firm to put forth our credentials. However in the marketplace of executive talent, the “real people” who are your business contacts know the value of “been there and done that.”

Try this approach and if you find it works, please write in. As you know, spreading the word about what works and what doesn’t work is what The FENG is all about.

Regards, Matt

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