When I became Chairman of The FENG in 1996, there was at the time an emerging technology called the Internet. (Rumored to have been invented by Al Gore.)
I was working for The Thomson Corporation at the time and had learned how to use email. Some days I got as many as 10 emails! (This was referred to as being buried in emails.) I thought, email could really prove useful and enable The FENG to more currently send job leads to our 60 members. Utilizing my AOL account, I started what is now our evening newsletter. As they say, the rest is history.
Moving to current times, I had an at length Zoom meeting last week with Steve Parkes and Jim Zuidema. I’ve known Steve and Jim for several years and they are members of two of our very successful Job Search Teams. Although the discussion centered around how to create Job Search Teams that were Special Interest Group oriented, rather than geographic, the issue I have been struggling with has been how to accommodate these ad hoc groups within our website’s “Meetings” structure.
Job Search Teams are small stable self-selected groups of 6-10 members who meet weekly to review each other’s job search process. Their insight was that now that we are meeting over Zoom, there was no need to limit these groups to small geographic areas. At best, it might be helpful if the folks in each group were in the same time zone, but even that is not a requirement.
Last week I also had a Zoom meeting of ACG’s Connecticut Chapter. Perhaps I shouldn’t confess this, but I honestly don’t care who the speakers are for the meetings I attend. I only go to network. Those chance encounters over bagels and coffee give me the opportunity to pass out business cards, plain and simple. So, I have since March been observing how the organizations to which I belong have provided networking opportunities. The only tool, and it has only appeared infrequently, has been the random break out room.
So, the puzzle I have been trying to solve for The FENG has been how to create networking opportunities for all of you, when you are no longer going to face to face meetings.
The short answer is we are going to use Zoom as our new enabling technology. I have been impressed how meeting someone over Zoom is SO much better than a phone call.
Please understand we are still going to have Chapter and Special Interest Group meetings with guest speakers. We may even have breakout rooms so you can network as a part of those meetings.
What I would like to do is create a large number of ad hoc small networking teams with rotating leadership and membership. Here is how we are going to make this happen.
I am looking for volunteers to help me kick this off. Each evening newsletter going forward will have a section called “The FENG’s Tip Talks” where you can list your interests and members can sign up by writing to you. A first section appears below my editorial.
Networking works best when it is targeted. You are welcome and encouraged to be as specific and narrow as possible.
Write to me at MattBud@TheFENG.org to volunteer.