One of the first steps any serious job seeker needs to take is to sit down, eliminate any distractions, and write (or type) out a list of all the personal and professional relationships they’ve built up over the years and presently have at their disposal.  Furthermore, if you conduct this exercise in earnest, there are two subsequent developments that you can take to the bank.  First, that you’ll discover that you know a lot more people than you think you do, and second, that despite your best efforts, your list is still not entirely complete and that you’ll have a number of additional names pop into your head as you drive to the store, take your morning shower, or doze off to sleep at night.

Along these lines, one category of relationships that is often overlooked, and underutilized, is the vendor community.  People often forget to include the names of past corporate suppliers and vendors on their networking list, even though this category has a special niche in the networking ecosystem based on the fact that these people tend to be highly connected, work with many other organizations in your target industry, and have a strong built-in knowledge of your skills, reputation, and capabilities.  We recently received a testimonial from one client, in fact, that speaks to the power of this type of relationship:

“Here’s a good networking story for your clients.  I had an excellent networking lunch with my Gartner representative yesterday.  One party that some of us IT types don’t think about enough are the vendors we work with.  They work with everyone in town so typically know about all the changes at organizations very early on.  Also, I’ve found that I have a particular way I like to do business and therefore, I can usually get a good cultural read on the companies my ‘trusted’ vendor is talking about.  When I return from Montana, my Gartner rep has promised to make a couple introductions for me!”