One of the important parts of my networking in particular, and my placement process in general, was to keep in regular contact with a group of friends who prayed for me, offered me feedback and advice, and generally served as brotherly support through the difficult time that candidacy and placement is.
After seeing the process go to very late stages, then watching it fall apart suddenly, one of these guys-- Bryan, a former classmate who graduated a year and a half ahead of me-- shot me a quick e-mail:
Sorry that things went south in the end. That stinks, and I'm praying for you about it.
A guy I work with might be able to help you find some good leads. I was talking to him this morning about how things fell through at this latest position, and he said you should call him. Call me in the next couple of days about it.
When I called, Bryan reminded me that the Senior Pastor at the church he served had left about a year before, and they had recently called an Interim Pastor: Dominic Aquila.
If you don't know who he is, here's a quick run-down: he has been involved in leadership at different levels in the PCA for decades, in addition to pastoring several churches, and had also be instrumental in starting New Geneva Theological Seminary in Colorado. At the time that Bryan and I were talking, Dominic was also serving as Moderator of the General Assembly of the PCA-- a position that cemented his prominence in the denomination.
Suffice to say, Dominic is also a well-connected contact. I e-mailed him about finding a time to talk, and he also asked to see my resume and Data Form, which I sent along. When we talked a few days later, he had studied both of these, and was well-acquainted with what sort of role and position I was seeking. He worked through the "vacant pulpits" list with me, and made some suggestions of which ones to call (and which ones to avoid!).
A couple of months later, I was anticipating the General Assembly in June and hoping for some good networking opportunities then. I e-mailed Dominic and asked if he might have a few moments to meet with me at the Assembly, which he responded that he would. (Remember, he's the outgoing Moderator, so he had his hands full with stuff-- but he made time for me, nonetheless.)
When we met up again, he suggested several opportunities, including my current church. Within a few days of returning from General Assembly, I contacted the Ruling Elder who was leading the search at this church, and mentioned that Dominic had encouraged me to call. We agreed that I would send my resume and Data Form to him. After we talked, he hung up and called Dominic, as well as my friend and former professor Phil Douglass, and asked them about me.
The next thing I knew, I had an invitation to come and interview. No sermon recordings, no phone interview-- just the word of two men who had become an important part of my network, and a glimpse of my resume. That was enough.
And here I am. I interviewed, gathered a lot of information, preached and led worship, and enjoyed a covered-dish dinner with them. As we left, Marcie and I were both convinced that this was where the Lord was bringing us-- a sentiment that was reciprocated the following Sunday in the congregational meeting.