Company of Friends FAQ
Welcome to the Company of Friends, Fast Company magazine's global readers' network. Through the CoF, Fast Company helps readers and forward-thinking business leaders and innovators connect, communicate, and collaborate with other leading readers -- online as well as face to face in communities around the world.
The Fast Company team has compiled this list of frequently asked questions to help you and other newcomers learn more about the Company of Friends. If you read this and your needs and questions have still not been addressed or answered, feel free to email Lynne d Johnson, FastCompany.com Senior Editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org. She'll do her best to help you.
- What is the Company of Friends?
- What are the benefits of membership?
- Does it cost anything to join the network?
- What will Fast Company do with my registration information?
- What will other CoF members do with my information?
- What do CoF groups do?
- How often do local CoF groups meet?
- OK. I'm sold. How can I sign up?
| What is the Company of Friends?
The Company of Friends is Fast Company magazine's readers' network. It is a global online and offline community of self-organizing groups of forward-thinking business leaders and innovators. Members help each other improve their careers, companies, and communities.
| What are the benefits of membership?
We suggest that there are many benefits to being a member of the CoF, including the ability to:
But let's ask CoF members what they get out of their involvement in the network.
"The Company of Friends has introduced me to some very valuable, helpful, and encouraging people. Already, some of these alliances have helped me increase sales for my business. Best of all, everyone understands what you're trying to do." -- Suzanne Paquette, Ontario, Canada
"I signed up for the Company of Friends just to check it out, thinking it would be like lots of other services that I ditched after a week if they didn't prove to be useful. The next thing I know, we're having a meeting on Saturday to kick around ideas and see how we can help each other. I love the idea of being able to sit down and have an open forum. Fast Company's Web site is one of the few useful sites I've found." -- Richard Pascarelli, California
"I moved about two years ago and haven't established a network in this area -- it's hard to do when I am busy. The Company of Friends helped me find people with similar interests. Coincidentally, there was a person who lives in my subdivision about 3/4 mile away! He works for a company I wanted to get more familiar with. I work for a major outsourcing company, which is a subject that interests him. I would like to meet more people in my area this way." -- Mary Jo Taft, Michigan
"I joined the Company of Friends without expectations, except to meet some interesting folks I might not otherwise have the opportunity to rub shoulders with. I really like the people I've met so far, and I always come away with some deeper and broader thoughts than I would have had without the network. I build my calendar (including tee times) around the meetings." -- Norm Stoehr, Minnesota
| Does it cost anything to join the network?
No. Membership in the Company of Friends is absolutely free. All we ask is that you get involved and invest in the activities and experiences of other members. If you give a little of yourself to the CoF, you'll get a lot out of your experience in the network. If you join intending to be a passive lurker, chances are that you won't get much out of your membership. In many ways, the CoF is built on assumed -- sometimes indirect -- reciprocity.
| What will Fast Company do with my registration information?
In Fast Company magazine, the Web site, the readers' network, and our other activities, we're creating tools for you to use. And the more we know about you, the better we can meet your needs. We ask for a lot of information from members of the CoF, but we will never provide the list of Company of Friends members to another person or organization for use not related to the CoF. From time to time, we might send you information about what we're doing -- and how you can get more involved.
| What will other CoF members do with my information?
Other members of the readers' network might contact you to get you involved in a local CoF group, discuss common business challenges, or share *+ideas and experiences based on your industry and interest selections.
By signing up for the Company of Friends, you implicitly agree to and accept such contact -- and gain the right to contact other readers yourself. The purpose of the Company of Friends is to help readers connect, communicate, and collaborate. If you're not comfortable with that, don't sign up. The Company of Friends is a service for people who want to connect with other Fast Company readers.
However, if a member of the Company of Friends emails you with an impersonal, inappropriate, and unsolicited blatant sales pitch -- spam -- or communicates with you in an otherwise unwelcome manner, let us know at email@example.com. For the most part, local CoF groups police their own mailing list and Web discussions. But if a CoF member complains about another participant's behavior, Fast Company staff will step in, contact the people involved, and weigh both sides of the exchange.
If we determine that a member's behavior is inappropriate and not in the spirit of the readers' network -- and that the person isn't receptive to or respectful of other members' concerns, we will deactivate their CoF membership. We're building a community of Fast Company readers, leaders, and innovators, not compiling a prequalified direct marketing list for people to use or abuse. The moral? Don't spam. If you're not sure whether something you'd like to send other members is spam, you should probably contact Fast Company or your group's coordinator to get a second opinion.
| What do CoF groups do?
The industry- and interest-related CoF groups are online discussion groups first and foremost.
Most of the geographically organized, local CoF groups schedule frequent face-to-face gatherings to update each other on current business activity, discuss common challenges, develop personal and professional skills, and leverage resources and tools within the group. CoF groups also schedule speaker series or member-led presentations on themes and topics addressed in recent issues of Fast Company. Members also communicate via email and online discussion forums on the CoF Web, and CoF coordinators -- local CoF leaders and discussion group facilitators -- maintain calendars of local events and activities, as well as an archive of agendas, minutes, and reports from past activities, discussions, and events.
| How often do local CoF groups meet?
The last time Fast Company tracked the meeting activity of local CoF's, 60% of CoF groups around the world met at least once a month. Some of the larger CoF's organize several activities and events a month, balancing smaller, more focused discussion and problem-solving events with larger speaker events and workshops.
| OK. I'm sold. How can I sign up?
You mean right now? You can join the CoF by filling out the registration form