Since many veterans leave the service without any formal civilian job experience to cite on their resumes, building networks and making connections becomes an essential step in the job-search process.

The associations you have can be integral in helping you land your dream job. Establishing your professional network doesn’t have to be a difficult mission. Follow these tips, and you’ll be well-connected and on your way to a fulfilling career in no time.

Keep in Touch With Military Comrades

Think of your military service like you would any other job or career. The people you work with every day are like your co-workers and the officers you report to are like your direct supervisors. When you leave the service, these connections should be one of your first points of contact when it comes to job hunting.

Pay attention to what former comrades are doing in their civilian lives. Are any of them working in a field you’re interested in? Do any of them work for a company that you would like to work for? If so, reach out to these people and ask if they can give you some advice on your resume or even recommend you for an open position at their companies.

At the very least, the people you served with will be able to write you a recommendation or put in a good word for you if a recruiter calls. Don’t underestimate the power of your military network and work hard to keep those connections strong.

Use LinkedIn for Veterans

LinkedIn is one of the most effective social networking sites for job hunters, and the company has created a special portal to help veterans find jobs. Former military members who sign up get a free one-year Job Seeker subscription that offers special benefits and tools to help you build connections.

You can use LinkedIn for Veterans to reach out to other service members and find companies that are making a push to hire veterans. You can even join in webcasts that offer instructional job-search information for the veteran community. Keep your profile updated and become active in specific LinkedIn groups to boost your chances of making an impact.

Attend Veteran Happy Hours

Many veteran associations and organizations host special veteran happy hours and networking events in cities across the country. Make an effort to find out about these events and try to attend at least one every month. Even if you don’t have anyone else to go with or you’re unfamiliar with the host organization, go, get out of your comfort zone and mingle.

Talking to other veterans over beers or cocktails will help keep your networking informal and fun. You never know who you’ll meet, or what ideas a conversation will spark. Plus, you already have something in common with everyone in the room—you’ve all spent time serving your country. Talking about your service background is a great icebreaker.

Put Social Media to Work

Sure, Facebook and Twitter are great for keeping in touch with family members and sharing hilarious YouTube videos of cats, but your social networks can give your job search a huge boost.

Make sure you put your skills and experience at the forefront of your profile and create an online brand that will resonate with hiring managers. On Twitter, follow users who work in fields that you’re interested in and engage them in conversations. Look for hashtags that relate to your areas of interest and use them appropriately. On both Facebook and Twitter, connect with veteran networks and job boards so that you can stay up-to-date on career opportunities.

Most importantly, be active. Don’t let your social profiles fall into a black hole. The more you use sites like Twitter and Facebook, the more you’ll engage and connect with others who could be beneficial in your job search.