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A card that changed everything

December 20, 2021

It was fall. A manager position was open, and the interviews had gone well. An internal candidate who had worked for me previously in a different role was the top contender and would get the job offer. However, there was another candidate who stood out to me. He was from outside the company and had never held a formal leadership position. And, unfortunately, he wasn’t selected. I wanted to hire him but didn’t have another position available. After letting him know he wasn’t getting the position I told him I wanted to hire him in the future.

So, I saved his resume. A few months later I decided to send a Christmas card to him. A small gesture, I thought, to stay in touch and indicate my interest in him.

The next year another manager position opened. Not only did he apply, but he was the successful candidate. He joined my team and went on to be a very effective leader in our organization.

Sometime later, he mentioned to me the impact the Christmas card had on him. He told me he likely wouldn’t have even applied for another role at our company had I not sent the card. This one Christmas card had a huge impact on him and eventually our team.

It ended up teaching me a great lesson on the importance of networking and building relationships. Little things can make a big difference.

Here’s what I learned from this experience that I can share with you:

  1. Being intentional in building and maintain relationships pays off

  2. Details matter

  3. Knowing what you want is crucial

  4. The answer may be yes, but not now

After sending that card, I cultivated deeper relationships with the people I had an interest in hiring. I made sure they knew I was interested in potentially hiring them in the future when positions opened. Over the years, my organization was made up of many people who I’d built relationships with long before the job posting ever went up.

So, how about you? If you’re in a position that makes hiring decisions, how do you cultivate and develop talent before there’s even a job posting? These questions may help:

  1. What are you doing to build a broad and deep network?

  2. Are you intentional enough?

  3. Who’s one person you could send a Christmas card to? (Send it today!)

If you’re struggling in your effort to build meaningful relationships, send us a DM or email We can help you develop and implement an effective strategy to build your network.

. . .

Jeff Custer is a long-time leader at both private and Fortune 500 companies where he has developed and led both high performance individuals and teams. He is passionate about developing leaders and building high impact teams. Jeff resides in the United States.

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