Why You Need an Out of the Blue Network

Whether you are currently employed or in transition, there is nothing more encouraging then an unexpected phone call or email from someone in your network or an executive recruiter asking you to consider a job opportunity.  You are flattered that someone is interested in you.  These surprise calls or emails immediately get your adrenaline flowing.  Albeit, your interest and their interest may be short-lived once the job opportunity is described.  Nevertheless, the encounter no matter how brief is a morale booster.

Such inquires can be a source of encouragement and disappointment.  However, it beats the alternative that no one is thinking about you.  I recently received the below email.  You may have received something similar.  I always read them and found this one humorous.  Below is the redacted version.

Subject: Job opportunity, ID: R03217…


Let me introduce you a new work offer. We have reviewed your personal information, and determined – you are the right person to become our employee in our mail department.

If you are interested, please reply to …@gmail.com

Okay, it reads like one of those emails where you inherited 10 million dollars and all you need to do is provide your banking information.  You delete it and move on.  But I was pleased that someone thought my executive experience qualified me to work in a mail department.  That’s the place where many executives have started so it seems right to run full circle.

I like out of the blue inquiries since they are unforeseen, unanticipated, happen at unexpected times and are not by accident.  That’s right, they occur because someone told someone about you.  Recruiters rarely cold call a candidate without a referral.  That referral can be from a human being or through a social network like LinkedIn or Facebook, etc.  These sudden calls and emails serve as a reminder that nothing happens out of the blue.  It takes a great network.  One that is robust and diverse.

A network is more than the number of people you know.  Although it helps if a lot of people know you.  However, it is not about the numbers.  In theory, through my LinkedIn network I am connected to over 7 million professionals.  That is a lot of ears to listen for opportunities.  But how many of those ears are actually listening for me, for you?  If you are having trouble coming up with a number consider this.  How many people are you listening for opportunities?  The answer is most likely only a few.  So that’s the answer to how many are listening for you, just a few.  But that is okay. A network is not a popularity contest.  I know people who limit the number of people they follow on Twitter because they know they can’t focus on everyone.  That is true about people in your network.  So, what is the right number of people to have in your network?

In my opinion, the answer is as many as you want.  However, if you don’t want them to be names in a social network phonebook then you need to be “connected.”  Write a blog (like this one), a newsletter, update your social network sites, tweet, send emails, etc., and the old fashioned way, meet people for lunch, coffee, etc.  Use your imagination.

LinkedIn has an interesting statistic.  They can tell you how many times your profile turned up in a search in the last 7 days.  Ever wonder why your profile appeared 30 times in a search and no one contacted you?  By the way, all of my out of the blue experiences were the result of people in my network and I got some really cool job opportunities.  Some of them I took.  I don’t think I am not alone in this experience.

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