From the Personal Branding Blog
BANG is not what you think! BANG is an acronym that stands for Barnes And Noble Group. It’s a job search networking group that was started over ten years ago at a time I was in transition. One day, at a job search networking group meeting, I was approached by another job seeker asking me whether I’d be interested in joining a group that was to be started for the purpose of helping others with their job searches. Why was my initial reaction negative? Because the mood I was in at the time could be described as “The answer is no. What is your question?” Two weeks later, when asked again, I consented.
The group’s first meeting was held in the café of a local Barnes & Noble bookstore, and six people showed up. The majority of time at that first meeting was devoted to determining the group’s objectives, settling on a proposed agenda for future meetings, deciding on meeting frequency, agreeing on the size of the group, and other administrative issues. I was very proud of myself because I was the one who came up with the name for the group. We called the members of the group bangsters. Make sure you note that the word starts with b and not g!
BANG has been in existence ever since and meets regularly every two weeks. There are more than 160 graduates. Members of the group who land are called graduates. Some of them have come back again, and others, even two more times since their employments ended. The group size has increased to a dozen people. We came up with a formal mission statement; a meetings code of conduct, which is a roster for meeting leaders, who rotate; and a list of topics for discussion. The topics list was submitted by bangsters and voted on in terms of priorities. New members to replace those who land are nominated by the bangsters and voted on for acceptance. That membership system proved to work well, because since its beginning, inceptions have included only two members considered poor fits.
The group meets for 2 ½ hours. A typical meeting agenda includes a brief introduction of new members and each member’s 30-second elevator pitch for practicing purposes. Then each bangster has five minutes to tell the group what happened in the past two weeks and to describe any upcoming challenges. Following that, an hour is devoted to discussion of the topic of the meeting. Bangsters are assigned to research and lead the topic. Each meeting has a timekeeper to make sure we don’t stray from the agenda.
Following is a list of typical topics:
The value that bangsters get out of such meetings is enormous because this is the only group I know of where those in transition can ask job-search-related questions and get realistic answers from very bright and accomplished people whose agenda is limited to helping others. That’s why there is a wait list of people wishing to join. Readers interested in starting such a group can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will gladly help you get started.