This resource is provided by American Corporate Partners, which aims to ease the transition from the military to the civilian workforce. ACP is a national nonprofit organization focused on helping returning veterans and active duty spouses find their next careers through one-on-one mentoring, networking and online career advice.
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you make introductions and expand your personal network of contacts
- Networking is a two-way street. Don’t merely focus on your own needs; try to find ways to develop a mutual support system. If each party has something to gain from the relationship, then both will have a reason to stay in touch.
- Form real relationships. Networking is about making quality contacts, not just meeting as many people as possible. Make it your goal to build genuine relationships with others and those connections will be far more fruitful.
- Have a plan. Know what you are trying to gain from networking. Are you looking for a job, a recommendation or just advice? Having clear intentions will help new contacts better understand your goals.
- Follow up. Ask new connections how to best stay in touch. Keep records of people you meet and take note of specific traits or conversation topics that will help you differentiate between contacts. Follow up within 48 hours for the next steps.
- Say thank you. Your contacts will appreciate that you recognize and value their efforts, whether your thanks comes in form of an email, a handwritten note, or a phone call.
- Share your passion. Don’t be intimidated to express your genuine interest in a company, industry or position. Connect with like-minded people to help build substantial relationships and show your enthusiasm to leave a lasting impression.
- Make connections with others in your situation. View your peers not as competition for jobs or opportunities but as a valued resource. They can be some of your best allies in exchanging advice, tips and even job openings.
- Ask permission. Always ask permission to use a contact’s name before attempting to reach out to someone in his or her network. For example, if you say “John Smith told me to reach out to you,” and it turns out that John Smith did not offer the introduction, you will risk permanently damaging your relationships with both parties.
- Update your contacts. If someone has given you advice regarding a certain situation, such as an interview or presentation, keep him or her updated about how it turned out. Even if you didn’t accomplish your original goal, keep the conversation going and thank them for their time and input.
- Don’t burn bridges. Stay on polite terms with contacts from college, the military, internships and previous jobs. You never know who end will up working at your dream company or as a hiring manager in the future.