Military Transition Roadmap – Step 5
Step 5: Networking
Why is it important to network?
Networking is very important to your future career, sometimes it is not just enough to apply for jobs. Most jobs are obtained through employee referrals or networking. Networking is also a great way to gain mentorships from professionals.
Two Types of Networking
Virtual Networking – which is networking with people who share the same goals or interests from all over and/or places like LinkedIn.
Local Networking – which is making connections in your local community, understated but vital to your career.
When networking you need to consider:
- Can this person help me?
- Do they have the ability to say yes?
- Can they connect me to the person who can say yes?
- Do they have the experience and knowledge I am looking to gain?
- Is this a meaningful connection?
- How can I bring value to them?
It is important that when you are networking that you have developed your personal brand that can speak to people without explanation and makes clear what your interests are. The best place to display your personal brand is LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows you to control your narrative and make meaningful connections with industry leaders. Your personal brand can be built using the professional summary you did in a previous exercise.
A professional contact is somebody with whom you build a genuine relationship with around a common interest or goal. This is someone who you will get to know and you will want to allow them to get to know you. A very important point to remember is you never start with an ask from someone.
You first provide them:
- A follow/like
- Connect them to a resource
- Connect them with a contact of your own
- Connect them to a group or community
Professional Contact Management
A huge part of making sure your professional contacts are leading to networking opportunities is managing those contacts. An important way to do that is by keeping records of important information about these contacts by maintaining a spreadsheet.
You will want to keep track of:
- Where they work
- Family information
- When you last spoke
- Ways you can help them
Check in with these contacts by saying hi every so often and sending a card for special occasions or holidays. Maintaining professional contacts allows you to have meaningful connections with those that might help connect you to an opportunity down the road.
When you do speak with a contact make sure to always:
- Thank them for their time
- Express your gratitude for information shared
- Thank them for connections made
Why doing the exercise is important?
Studies have shown that 80% of all roles are filled through professional contacts. Making sure to put time into connecting with people you already know by letting them know you are looking for work and connecting with people you don’t know who are in career fields or industries you want to be in. This can increase your chances of landing the job you are looking for.
Professional Networking Template
Use the professional networking template to reach out and build on relationships you already have or create new ones.
It is important to:
- Build a powerful network of genuine relationships
- Continually invest in others, like you would a friendship
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who are where you want to be
Professional Contacts Spreadsheet
Manage your professional contacts through a spreadsheet. This tool can help you throughout your career as it is a surefire way to keep and grow connections. It is not enough to just have a large list of connections if you know nothing about them or aren’t leveraging them in a meaningful way.
Download the Exercises