For those of you who are familiar with Kermit the Frog, you know it isn’t easy being green.
In much the same way, individuals who know about our little society called The FENG have come to expect great things from us.
If I start from the outside and work my way in, members of the search community have a perception, not all wrong, that members of The FENG are all very qualified individuals. I have either been able to fool all of the people all of the time, or else those of you who are dedicated members of our august body have been living by our “qualified members only” standard and passing by jobs that aren’t a fit. God bless you all for helping me in this endeavor.
While it creates a burden on all of us not to “buy a lottery ticket” once in a while, over the long term it pays big dividends in the form of more and more job listings. With 37,000+ members who behave themselves and 4,000+ registered Friends of The FENG, we are bound to have more and more job listings to pick through. And, hopefully, because we don’t charge for postings, we get to see them before anyone else. Not a bad deal, don’t you think?
Since I don’t want to take up too much more than my allotted number of pages tonight, I am going to primarily focus tonight on our relationships with each other. Let me begin with the invitation we extend to those we know and meet to become new members.
What we have going for us is the envy of all of the other discipline areas. We are far and away the largest organization of our type in the entire world. We are a true networking group in that in order to join, you need a sponsor. (We have the world of “six degrees of separation” beat by a wide margin.) Those who wander our way are given 5 names to contact in the hopes of their finding a sponsor. It is THAT important to me that your relationship with The FENG begins with someone extending the hand of friendship to you that we personally take the time to provide you with those names.
So, if you begin your relationship with The FENG by someone giving you this most valuable gift of membership, I hope you will pass it on to those you meet along the way who should be members. Please keep in mind that The FENG is primarily an organization of CFOs, Controllers and Treasurers. Other job categories, directly related, are also welcome as long as they are financial folks. Financial services is not the same thing. It’s not that there aren’t great people in other discipline areas, it is just that they aren’t appropriate to our membership. Help them in whatever way you can, but don’t invite them to join. The same thing is true of those who are not at a senior level in their careers. I typically look for at least 20+ years of work experience and senior level titles. I do accept those earlier in their careers if they appear to have held senior level jobs for some significant period of time.
Let us assume for the moment that you are currently looking for a new work opportunity. Your expectation from our members should be that anyone you contact will make some attempt to be helpful to you. This is not to say that they will conduct your search for you, but only that they will try to connect you to others who have some appropriate relationship to your industry or skill set background.
For those of you on the receiving end of these communications, I would ask you to keep in mind something I say from time to time. All jobs are temporary. No one is ever actually working. Everyone is just between searches. When you are next on the asking end, you will want to believe in your heart of hearts that you did everything you could do for those who sought you out for your advice and counsel. This will entitle you to draw down as many favors as you like during your time of need.
For those of you soliciting help, let me suggest an approach. First, be very selective in who you contact from our membership directories. Second, any message you send should be personalized so the recipient knows you took the time to consider whether or not you should write. Third, make your message actionable. I left this for last because it needs some explanation.
Actionable means that you will write an email cover letter no more than ¾ of a page in length that identifies you as a member in good standing of The FENG, that states your basic industry and/or skill set background and that you will have attached a copy of your resume. The resume is attached not in the hopes that the recipient will have a job for you, but rather as a shorthand way of providing an easy to read overview of who you are and what you do that will save both parties a lot of time when you connect by phone or in person. Speech is the slowest form of communication. Reading a resume takes just seconds. We can then spend more time building our friendship.
I would ask members to “pull out the stops” for one another, but I would also ask those who are asking for favors to understand that not everyone can “come out and play” on a particular day. Some folks “don’t get it” and some folks don’t think they can help. While it would be nice if they would tell you that, some folks don’t know how to do that either. Let’s not tar our entire organization with the brush that no one helps, when more likely than not you have just randomly hit a few bad apples. Perhaps this borders on “the suspension of disbelief” required for going to the movies, but I can live with it.
I fully realize and accept that I live in a dream world to believe that all 37,000+ of our members will live up to the great expectations I have for each and every one of you, but I also know if I beat on you regularly about what I want The FENG to be, sooner or later I will wear you down.