Always be networking

Always be ready to network

Two women and a man are meeting casually to discuss job options.

Follow some of these tips to create a successful networking strategy as you begin your transition to a civilian career.

Instructions: Click each phrase to learn more networking strategies.

Make a list

The first step in creating a networking plan might be the easiest — write down every person you know. From friends and family, to alumni from your high school or college, the men and women who served with you, even your kids’ friends’ parents or your local mechanic.

Get organized

Once you have this list, enter the names into a spreadsheet or contact list so you can keep track of who you contact, when you contacted them, the result, and any follow-up.
 
When you’re searching for a job, you want to meet as many people as you can. Target at least three to five meetings each week, and track your results.

Keep in touch

Stay in touch with your civilian friends, your military friends, and ex-coworkers from past positions. Don’t let too much time go by between conversations with these people.
 
How will this help your job search? If you are already in touch with these people, it will seem natural when you contact them about a possible position.
 
If you have been out of touch with some of your contacts, now is a great time to reconnect. Send them a short note or email and ask what they’ve been up to and mention you’re transitioning to civilian life. The more people who know you’re looking for a civilian job, the better.

Use social networks

Use all the online resources you can to check in with your network. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, even your own blog can make it easy to get in touch and stay in touch.

Be ready

No matter where you are — the grocery store, the post office, even a little league game — be ready to network. You never know who you may meet at these places. Look the part that people expect of a military servicemember — clean, neat, and professional.
 
Consider creating plain business cards with your personal information — name, phone number, and email address, so people have a way to contact you should a position become available.

Know your goals

The goals of every networking meeting are to:

  • Explore potential opportunities in your contact’s company
  • Receive other names of companies to target
  • Gain three more contacts you can network with

You want each new contact to result from a referral or a warm introduction.

Give back

It’s important to give back to the people who supply you with leads, information, or even a quick chat to catch up. If you can, return the favor.

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