People who know me are going to laugh at the irony of what I am writing as I am very bad at sending thank you notes, but a recent email that I received drove home the importance of saying thank you and staying in contact with your network.
After reading so much about the power of networking, I decided to give it a shot. My husband and I are from the east coast, and I found myself graduating with sparse options and moved us to South Dakota. When I was laid off this past October, I told him it was time for us to go home, and started working toward that goal.
I took a 6-month technical writing contract in South Dakota while I worked on this, and that contract will be ending in June, which gave me a pretty solid timeline. I wanted to make sure, though, that I got a job in my field (computer science) that could really become a career position.
On March 28, I emailed a gentleman I’d met a few times. He’s an ND parent, heavily involved with the ND Club of the Hudson Valley (my husband’s home club), and knows my husband’s family very well. I met him both as my husband’s girlfriend in college and later at Alumni Senate on campus when I was president of the ND Club of the Black Hills. I asked him if he could put me in touch with anyone to discuss the tech market in the area. He asked me for a resume that he could send around to the Club board, which I promptly sent along with my thanks.
A week or so later, I emailed back to check up, and a week after that. When I finally got an email back, he apologized and informed me that he had just now sent along my resume. Immediately after his email in my inbox was an email from one of the board members, an ND alum, informing me that he knew just who I should be speaking with. He put me right in touch with the ND alum COO of the tech consulting group that does IT work for his bank.
At this point, I was nervous about how this networking thing would go. I sent back my thanks to the board member for the contact, and asked if I could use his name when I emailed his contact. He said he was sure there wouldn’t be a question, but I could feel free to use his name. So I sent along an email.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been, but I was incredibly surprised by the response from a COO, even of a small company, to a single developer, 2000 miles away, looking for advice on the atmosphere of the job market. He set a time to get on the phone with me and treated me like long lost family. He spent over an hour with me, learning not just about my skills and goals, but also the kinds of community involvement my husband and I like, as well as asking after my husband’s career and aspirations. He gave me a handful of quick suggestions of places to look for work, and said he’d get back to me.
A few days later, he called me back. He’d remembered that one of the companies his group consults for was looking for a developer. So he’d called up the CEO and asked whether he’d found one. The CEO told him yes, they had, and it was working out great, but he thought he could use another. At which point, this COO that I’d had a single phone conversation with put his name on the line and told him to stop interviewing local candidates and talk to me.
I did a phone interview with the CEO, something he’d never done for his small company of 12 employees. After the interview, he flew my husand and I to NY (this past weekend) to meet the other employees and made me a job offer. I will be moving to NY in July with my husband following after wrapping up our affairs in August.
I am, at this time, not just excited but amazed at the power of networking. I didn’t matter how many times I read that it could work, I never believed it could be quite this amazing, especially long-distance. Not only has networking earned me a position, but friends! The COO of the tech consulting firm and his wife (a playwright, my husband is a theater tech/actor/radio DJ) had breakfast with us while we were in town and are amazing, fun people. We can’t wait to see more of them when we move out there.
I want to thank you and everyone else who continues to tell job seekers about networking. Thank you for continuing to harp on how and when to reach out, on making the connections, on continuing to check in.
This individual took the leap and embraced networking, stayed in contact, and she is beginning to experience some traction to her NYC job search (while living in South Dakota). I told the young woman who shared her experience that I read her story at least 2-3 times a week as it re-energizes me – know that the thank you you send today could be that spark your contact needs. This is yet another way you can help others while conducting a job search.