You need to network. I know you know this. You’ve heard this as often you’ve been told to call the duty driver if you’ve had too much to drink.
Consider this your duty driver. When do you call? How do you go about making contact? First, make sure you have a “recall card.” You probably already do: your social networks. Whether you are getting out or already made the big transition, those guys and gals you served alongside are a treasure trove of advice and assistance. Here’s how to utilize military connections:
Look to Your Friends
I recommend identifying pre-existing friends who may have something to offer for your goals. I don’t advocate random “blanket networking” that is really just about the creation of a self-serving army. But get to know who you already know. Social media (Read: Establishing Your Professional Network) is always helpful in networking; after all, it is all about connecting to other people. Don’t hesitate to use social media for leads, but do it with a sense of propriety. Make personal and authentic connections that make your motivation clear. Send a personal email to a buddy who lives in the same region as a company you’ve been eyeing, or a request for resume suggestions from a friend who has worked in a similar career field. You may remember that your friend’s parent works as a plumber, and asking for them to pass along a request for suggestions on how to obtain an apprenticeship is perfectly acceptable.
Friendship and ‘Professional-ship’
If you are looking for an opportunity with a specific connection, be honest about your interest. No matter how close your friendship may be, it is important to separate the personal relationship from your professional self. Don’t assume that because a buddy enjoyed drinking beer with you that they will be on board with you working at their small business. They may not even be aware of your professional side (you know, the one that comes out in interviews). They may only know crazy, hop-on-the-table-and-dance-on-the-bar you.
So be sure to offer a “no obligation” copy of your resume and ask for the email address they’d like to receive it at.
Support Each Other
Remember that networking is a two-way street. Be sure to continue to take those deeply ingrained lessons in camaraderie from you military experience out to the civilian world and take care of your fellow vets. I think you will find that the veteran community is responsive and interested in the success of one another.
Next: Need some motivation? Check out our Career Success Profiles.