Success Through Networking?

Facts, Tips, and Resources to Help You Improve Your Networking Skills

“Are you going to look for a job today?” my mother asks, as I pour some cereal in a bowl.

“It’s almost lunch time are you sure you want to eat that now?” her questions continue to come at me one after another taking me back to when I was interrogated overseas.

All I can do is grunt, fearing if I say more it will be a verbal assault.

I take my bowl back to my room to sit and eat my cereal in the dark and the silence. My mind starts racing why is it so difficult to connect with someone. I see hundreds of jobs on job boards, why do I not even get a call back. What am I missing? Networking has become an essential part of career advancement. About 60-80% of jobs are found through networking and, without it, finding the right job can take twice as long.

Networking may be even more essential for Veterans and their spouses due to the difficulties that can come from transitioning to civilian life.

Leaving the military often means “leaving a way of life and community behind.” In addition to this loss, Veterans must also adjust to the different attitudes, behaviors, lingo, skills, routines, and practices that are desirable in the civilian work force. Writing resumes that will capture the attention of employers, translating military skills into civilian work force skills, communicating effectively and personably during interviews, and understanding corporate structures, are just some of the challenges Veterans can face when entering the civilian work force.

Networking not only helps people find open job positions, but it is also an important tool for learning more about potential employers and overcoming the challenges of transitioning out of the military. Using your network to learn about potential employers can make you a stronger candidate by helping you understand employer priorities and “align your resume, cover letter, job application, and interview answers with their needs.” Connecting with people who are working in your desired field can teach you about the dress code, terminology, working conditions, and culture of potential employers; helping you to decide which jobs are right for you. Networking can also connect transitioning military personnel and their families to people in their future civilian communities; helping them build a support network even before they arrive.

So, what is networking? As one U.S. News article puts it, networking is the “art of using human interaction to obtain the information and access that will lead to the achievement of one’s goal.”

Networking can be difficult. Many people struggle with putting themselves out there and striking up a conversation with strangers. For those who suffer from anxiety, PTSD, or depression, connecting with new people can be especially taxing. If you, or a loved one, are struggling with networking, don’t worry. Networking is a skill that can be developed and improved.

Here are 10 tips that can help you become more comfortable and successful when networking.

  • Networking Tip # 1 – Find a career doing something that you are passionate about.
  • Networking Tip # 2 – Recognize the importance of online networking.
  • Networking Tip # 3 – Reach out to professionals in your desired field.
  • Networking Tip # 4 – Have a positive attitude.
  • Networking Tip # 5 – Connect with all kinds of people.
  • Networking Tip # 6 – Network with other Veterans.
  • Networking Tip # 7 – Keep networking!
  • Networking Tip # 8 – Build up your skills.
  • Networking Tip # 9 – Pay it forward.
  • Networking Tip # 10 – Start networking now!

Networking is a skill that can be improved with practice and, most importantly, help. There are ample resources out there dedicated to helping people network.

Veteran groups like the Veterans Career Network, can help transitioning service members find jobs. These groups often host networking events that can connect you with business leaders and influencers. For tips on how to navigate networking events, click here. For a list of networking groups and events, click here.

Mentors are a wonderful resource. To find more networking mentors and search for jobs with military-friendly companies, visit’s Veteran Jobs section. There are also wonderful mentoring ministries out there such as Career Jump-Start.

For a more detailed guide on effective networking, read The Power Networking Strategy: The Personal Approach to Landing Your Dream Job by Jay Arbetter.

For more career advancement resources, click here.

Non-VA Local Help

Know A Vet? presents this information and these national resource directories, not as a recommendation of any specific service or provider, but as a starting point for your own research.

Please feel free to use the check sheets Before, During and After the Medical Appointment and Choosing a Medical Service Provider to help you in your search for the best help for your individual circumstances.

In addition, there may be other federal, state and local government or private resources for your individual needs.

VA, Government and Organization Help

Know A Vet? presents this information and these national resource directories, not as a recommendation of any specific service or provider, but as a starting point for your own research.

Clicking here will bring you to a database of other VA services you can locate by zip code.

Please also check out our page on Filing Claims. We recommend that you do NOT file claims on your own.  If you do not file exactly the way the VA looks for information, it can take literally years for your claim to go back and forth before approval or denial.

The other resources listed, such as your local Veterans Service Office  (names vary by county), VSO counseloror, VFW, etc., will help you determine what you are eligible for and file correctly for results in as little as a few weeks.

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