Are you someone who’d rather listen than talk? Do you consider yourself a bit shy?
Networking in basic terms means to connect with people. Essentially, we’re talking about meeting people and making contacts that could potentially help you find your next career AND being available to help those same people when they ask for your help too. It all starts with a smile and a handshake in most cases.
When it comes to making a successful Military-to-Civilian career transition, you cannot do it alone. You need people in your life that can help you along. You need to build a network of people who you can count on, and they can count on you. Over the past several weeks, I’ve received phone calls from people in my own personal network who called asking about particular companies, career opportunities, and professional/personal references. I was happy to help them.
So, how did this network start? It started from meeting people in professional circles over the years. Some of the people in my network span years – we’ve known each other since we were kids and kept in touch over the decades. Part of my network include people from previous companies. We went through new hire training, skills training, or worked together on company projects. The people you currently work with become an important part of your network for life.
Networking with people you once served with or with people you already know to some degree is much easier than networking with complete strangers. For some people, networking is way out of their comfort zone. Does this describe you?
Building a network of people that can help you or that you can help can be tough if you find it difficult to strike up a conversation with someone. Having a network of people that you regularly meet or communicate with can not only help you get hired, you can help each other throughout your career.
Here’s a simple way to ask a few questions in order to help you network with other people. After you’ve introduced yourself, try what I like to call “The 5 Ws & How”:
Who are you? (More like, What’s your name? I’m _____. Great to meet you ____.)
What industry do you work in?
Where do you work? (If they say they’re Unemployed, ask them where their dream job is located.)
When did you get into that field?
Why don’t we exchange contact information in case I hear of something of interest to you?
How do you connect with other people in the ____________industry? or, How do you prefer to be contacted should I hear about a career opportunity you might be interested in?
If networking is new to you, keep it simple at first. Before you know it, you’ll be able to build a network of people that commit to looking out for each other. This is just one example and one simple approach to networking.
All the best to you in building your network.
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