You Never Know Who You Are Sitting Next To (A Success Story)

Whenever the topic of searching for a job comes up I always try to emphasize that the majority of job opportunities come from who you know rather than what you know. Another great example of that truth comes from a friend of mine, Jaclyn.

She is finishing up her Master’s degree this semester, had started the process of looking for her first full-time career opportunity, and is proof that doing the right things and opening your mouth and talking to people can pay off big time.

I have great news to share with you, and a story that I thought you might find interesting since you were the one that told me “80% of people focus on applying for jobs online, 20% of them get them there; 20% of people focus on applying for jobs through networking, 80% of them get them there.”

With that in mind, I have refused to apply online and continued networking and it has paid off.

A year ago at Stones River SHRM (which I have been attending for two years) I saw a man sitting by himself that I had not seen before, so I sat next to him, introduced myself, etc. After the luncheon ended, he gave me his card and told me when I graduated to contact him.

On Wednesday of last week, I decided I should probably update my résumé and begin passing it around to my contacts, and the man I met at SHRM was one of them. By Wednesday night he emailed me saying that his company did not have any current positions they were looking for, but he told his boss enough about me the past year to pique his interest.  He said although they were not looking, I could change their mind if I met them for lunch on that Friday (two days later).

I went to lunch with them and after an hour of talking, they let me create my title, create my own job description, and set my own salary. It was unbelievable. Saturday morning I received an email from one of the top directors saying how they were excited for me to start and that my skills and talents aligned with their desires and needs.

By Monday, I had received confirmation of my salary request, benefits information, etc. Yesterday, I received tons of information on the company, and today I go for a tour of their campus.

My first project is to head up an employee rewards and recognition program, and my main goal will be to engage employees and be the person they can communicate with. I start part-time now in order to build employee trust and familiarize myself with the culture, and I begin full-time once I graduate.

Because of networking and creating positive relationships, I was offered a job that was not in the budget or even created. I will now be working for a global company that has a presence in Middle Tennessee.

When we ended our conversation on Friday, I was told by my future boss, “You did not know that sitting next to me that day would spring-board your career, did you?”

And it is true. You truly never know who you are sitting next to. I am very excited that in a tough economy that I was able to begin the job search and in two days find the perfect job for me.

Great story with a number of good lessons, including –

1) She started networking LONG before she needed a job 

2) She was involved in a professional association that was in her functional area and attended regularly

3) She was not afraid to get out of her comfort zone and meet someone she did not know

4) She made an effort to focus on networking and utilizing people in her circle to move her job-search forward

5) She was not afraid to continue a conversation even though someone told her that they did not currently have a position for her

6) She did not let the down swing in the economy ruin her spirits and poison her attitude

This week I challenge you to seek out one person that you don’t know and introduce yourself. You never know who that person might be.

Good hunting and good luck!


9 responses to “You Never Know Who You Are Sitting Next To (A Success Story)

  1. Great story!
    That is what networking is all about.

  2. Melody Jennings Kruzic

    This is a great story. I love having real examples to share with my clients.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. This story is so encouraging!

  4. I am going to forward this one to my daughters who are in college now. It helps to hear this message from more than one source.

  5. I was laid off 13 months ago and had struggled to find a new job. Countless applications, very few interviews and no offers had put me in a desperate situation after so many months without work. I had a strong network of friends, family and colleagues locally, but it wasn’t enough. I then started to search for people I had worked with years ago, and started to network with them. This paid off. I’ve received 2 offers within the past week. Thank God!… I would recommend to build a strong network with people that know the value of your work. Reach to them regardless of how long it has been. Some will answer and others won’t, but you only need one… God Bless.

  6. Matt – Just wanted to say that I noticed the advice Jaclyn reported you giving to her regarding networking. Thanks for supporting the students at MTSU – I really appreciated it while there and still appreciate your efforts. Guidance from those with experience means so much to those just starting out in their careers.

  7. Matt- Thank you for sharing my story. I appreciate your continued support and friendship. I am glad it was able to touch and inspire others!

  8. Pingback: Catching Lightning in a Bottle (THREE Job-Search Success Stories) « A Recruiters Guide to the Universe

  9. Matt- Great story – just tweeted it

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