We all know the value of networking. However, sometimes we forget we’re networking when we least expect it.
Let me tell you a true story...
I recently placed a candidate in a very important, high-level role with one of my clients. She went through a fairly standard process of several stages, doing well the whole way through. Of course, there was competition, too.
When she got to the last interview with the CEO, a funny thing happened. By a quirk of fate, they talked about people they both knew. One of these was a fellow student of my candidate - in junior high school and then in high school, too.
Back then, my candidate was a superstar, too. A good reputation. Involved within the community. Hard worker. You get the picture. The CEO naturally used this connection to evaluate the candidate further, which helped seal the deal for my candidate.
The lesson learned here is we really don’t know where the fringe of our network begins and ends. And we don’t always have control over it. It grows on its own, too.
The key to remember is, if you are building a negative reputation in any area of your life (school, neighborhood, employer, social networking sites), it can come back to haunt you. On the flip side, a positive reputation in the strangest places can help you.
Of course, we can’t go back in time and change the past. Although, our children are building their networks right now, and should think about the impact of their actions and behaviors on their future. For us, the past can be revisited in the present day; we just need to think creatively about this.
What to think about:
As you think about your network, don’t limit yourself to work environments and professional colleagues. Consider anyone who knows you to be a possible “character witness” in your future trial during your next job search.
It is also best and easiest to work on “network cleansing” while you are NOT looking for a job. In a pinch, this effort can be tedious and time-consuming. Time is a luxury you may not have in final stages of interviewing with an ideal company. This is an exercise that can be done any time.
Be creative about your network and never assume you know what it says about you. Find out. Don’t miss any dark corners—cover as much ground as possible. You never know who in your past will turn out to be your best reference—just like my recently-placed candidate, it could date back to your youth.
Job-Hunt's Working with Recruiters Expert Jeff Lipschultz is a 20+ year veteran in management, hiring, and recruiting of all types of business and technical professionals. He has worked in industries ranging from telecom to transportation to dotcom. Jeff is a founding partner of A-List Solutions, a Dallas-based recruiting and employment consulting company. Learn more about him through his company site alistsolutions.com. Follow Jeff on LinkedIn and on Twitter (@JLipschultz).