Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but I get swept away by stories of chance encounters. This is why the romantic movie Before Sunrise moved me (and a million other women). When the characters Jesse and Céline met by chance on a train in Europe, their whole lives took a different course —and that change (over 18 years) is chronicled in two sequels, Before Sunset and Before Midnight.

About a month ago I stumbled upon a post on LinkedIn by Ingrid Goldbloom Bloch that confirmed my belief that chance encounters can be powerful catalysts in your job search and career path—just as they can in your romantic life. Here’s a clip from Ingrid’s post:

I would like to share with you something that happened to me yesterday. It is a true testament to the power of a simple conversation. An Irish friar on LinkedIn contacted me. Yes, you read this correctly: 1) LinkedIn has reached ALL professions and 2) A Jewish woman living in the suburbs is friends with a friar.

Eight years ago at a pub in Ireland, I ended up in a simple conversation with the man next to me. I don’t recall all we discussed, but I do vaguely remember meeting a man of the cloth, being surprised he knew Hebrew, and a promise to send him a book he wanted as he had just returned from 27 years in Africa and had very few belongings.

Today, I got a LinkedIn request from this man. With a few exchanges he wrote me the following:

“ You have no idea how a chance meeting, a chance remark, may have a huge effect on someone’s life. As Rabbi Lawrence Kushner said (more or less) when the little piece you offer fits the missing gap in someone else’s life, you are truly a messenger of God. So, anam-chara (OK, that’s Irish, sorry: roughly, onnom-khorra = “soul-friend”), thank you!”

What chance encounters have impacted your life? As I shared in a previous blog, 8 Easy Ways to Start Networking, an important career chance encounter happened when I began chatting with a woman at my gym who was working out on the treadmill next to me. I mentioned my job search and she suggested I connect with her old boss. That conversation and then introduction led to a seven-year period of career growth for me at a high-tech company.

How much of your current career path can be attributed to luck and timing? I welcome your stories of the surprise meeting that changed your life.

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