The dean concurred with my chair that I should wait a year so that it is a no-brainer decision. However, the dean also made another comment. It was something along the lines of, "I don't know that this person would receive tenure without being invited for several external seminars at other universities." Again, this is something new that has literally never once been mentioned as a deficit in my reviews for the last four years. I have papers and have been on study sections, so I never really thought about this as a problem. But hearing this from the dean sent my chair into action, which I'll talk about below.
First of all, I know that everyone always says, "just contact your network and ask them to set up a seminar for you." I have in fact done this, and everyone always says, "I'd be thrilled to organize a seminar for you if you're ever in our area, but I don't have available funds to pay for the travel." Basically this means that if it's free for them, of course they would host something, but without a Nature paper, an Assistant Professor doesn't qualify for their fancy seminar series. I understand completely. I'm in exactly the same boat. I have many friends and people in my field that I would love to host for a seminar here, but they don't meet the level of fame required for our limited number of seminar spots.
I asked some of my colleagues for advice, and word got around that I needed help with this. My department chair and several other people in my department have gone out of their way to make phone calls and send emails to their friends around the country. One of my colleagues said that they emailed everyone that they've written a tenure letter for over the past five years because they should owe them a favor. I've been overwhelmed by how generous my colleagues have been. As expected, 99% of the responses from people have been something along the lines of what I wrote above regarding hosting me if I'm ever in town. At least this gives me some options, and I may choose conferences more strategically with potential seminar locations in mind. But somehow this networking strategy did in fact work, and within 48 h of emails being sent, I have at least two "invited" external seminars lined up for later this year. I'm really loving my coworkers right now!