Feeling intimidated by your civilian job search?
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In any profession, networking is the best (and easiest) way to advance your career. Watch this 3-minute video to hear from a Harvard University representative about how to network through informational meetings.
There are countless ways to find professional communities and networking events in your ideal industry (check out Meetup and Eventbrite to get started). In reality, the phrase “network like a pro” means that you know both your “30-second professional story” inside and out, and how to maintain mutually beneficial relationships.
Here are 5 ways you can leverage networking opportunities to advance your career.
1 – What is your ask? What can you give? Networking events are very much “what can I do for you, what can you do for me” scenarios. To win this trade-off, go in with a clear idea about what you want to learn. Start by narrowing down the skills you have to offer from your military service or past life experiences. Your stories are powerful, and contain transferrable skills that you can use to demonstrate interest in a new career path.
2 – Do your research! Compare the expertise you have to offer, to that of the networking event organizers. Research the company and speakers participating in the event beforehand. What experience do they have on their LinkedIn profiles that you’d like to better understand? Familiarize yourself with the purpose of the event to get the most out of your time.
3 – Ask questions! It is normal and beneficial to ask everyone questions at networking events. Don’t be afraid of being “that person” who interrupts a small group conversation to introduce themselves. Ask the group what brought them to the event, or why they are passionate about what they do. Most importantly, don’t go anywhere without getting their business card!
4 – Yes, this means you need business cards too. They are very affordable (try Vistaprint or Staples) and 100 cards are harder to give out than you think. Business cards are your reminder to follow up with each person the same day. At a minimum, request to connect with them on LinkedIn. If it makes sense, then follow up over email to ask for a coffee meeting to continue your conversation in a casual setting.
5 – Stay open-minded! Not every networking event or coffee meeting will lead to a job the next day. However, building your own network of people who are tuned into the industry is your strongest professional resource. Keep an open mind on how long it may take to find your next job. The saying “good people know good people” rings true for successfully navigating the job market.
Your military network can be your most valuable tool in your civilian job search. Use LinkedIn to see what second-degree connections you can be introduced to. Somebody still in the military might be the perfect friend to introduce you to a potential hiring manager–don’t overlook those connections!
Stay tuned: Download the Sandboxx App
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Stay tuned to this series to:
- Learn skills such as interviewing, networking and salary negotiation to help you achieve your career transition goals.
- Be connected with civilian employers looking to hire Sandboxx veterans.