Being a military spouse, it can sometimes feel as if your needs and career goals take a backseat to your spouse’s military career and orders. Frequent moves, childcare, and a lack of time can really hinder your career, but if you master the art of networking, you can overcome these hurdles. Below, we will take a look at our favorite tips for career networking for military spouses.
1. Network Every Day
Although at this point networking every day might sound impossible, getting into the habit of making small daily connections will take the chore out of networking. We’re not suggesting that you go to a career meetup every day, but rather we suggest creating social media accounts like LinkedIn to connect with others in your industry. Online networking allows you to be active in your industry without ever having to leave your home! This is a great solution for those mid-moves or working around your family’s schedule. The best ways to network using LinkedIn are:
- Connect with people in the local industry: If you don’t know the person personally, make sure to attach a note to your connection request stating that you’re looking to connect for local networking purposes.
- Interact with relevant posts: Once you’ve started adding connections to your LinkedIn account, make sure you make your presence known by liking and making insightful comments on relevant posts.
- Join Groups: Check to see if there is an industry-related group that you can join on LinkedIn. These groups will allow you to connect with many people in your industry at once.
Check LinkedIn for a few minutes every day and make those little meaningful connections—they will add up!
2. Research Before Outreach
While you’re networking, you will undoubtedly find people online or hear of someone that you will want to connect with at a future time. Before you send your email or LinkedIn connection, make sure to take some time to research their career. Not only will this additional background knowledge help break the ice, but it will also give you an idea of what outcome you want from the conversation. The best way to research a person before reaching out to them is by doing a quick search on LinkedIn. Their LinkedIn profiles will have their past jobs and job descriptions listed so that you can get a granular look at their skills and experience. Who knows—you might not even want to connect with that person once you research them, and that will save you time to connect with people that better suit your needs.
3. Set Goals for Yourself
As you’re reaching out to people, have a goal in mind for your conversation and share that with the person you’re looking to connect with. Take some time for self-discovery to determine what you want to happen because of your conversation.
- Are you looking for a job?
- Do you want to become more familiar with the local job market?
- Are you considering entering a new industry and want some inside tips?
- Do you have a similar background and want to connect with a like-minded individual?
Whatever your goal may be, be upfront about it while you’re networking and use it to help introduce yourself. Here’s a quick example introduction that briefly states this person’s networking goal. “Hi my name is ____ , and I was hoping to connect with you to learn more about the local real estate job market.” While you will definitely want your initial message or email to be more detailed, you at least get the idea that introducing your goal is essential to making effective connections.
4. Craft Your Message
Although we gave you an introductory statement example above, you can’t just leave it at that, you need to create an elevator pitch. Your pitch should include an introduction, a short explanation of your skills and experience, and explain the desired outcome of your networking. An elevator pitch saves any back and forth messaging to narrow down your networking goals. Additionally, people are less likely to respond if they have to spend time deciphering your background and goals. While you do want to emphasize the important details, don’t make your initial message too long - you should be pleasant and direct. It’s important to remember that the person you’re reaching out to is doing you a favor by connecting, so you’ll want to maintain a high-level of respect. Hopefully, the above tips on how military spouses can network have been helpful, but if you’re looking for additional networking tips or are interested in courses to further your career, visit Meditec.