Networking Bootcamp for Military Spouses

networkingMany military spouses face unique challenges when it comes to finding and keeping employment. Although the nomadic lifestyle can make having a career a bit more difficult, it opens up a range of opportunities that you may have not have access to otherwise. One great tool to utilize in growing your career is networking! So what is networking and why is networking important?

Networking is so much more than just getting a job. Ultimately, networking will help you in finding new opportunities, but in the big picture it is an invaluable resource and system that carries you from one career move to another. Networking provides growth opportunities, allows you to give back to others, as well as provides an easy way to nurture professional relationships. While networking may not be your cup of tea, it is an important tool and skill to possess.

Here are ten activities to jump start your networking abilities!

Create a Plan: Having a plan of where you want to go and how you want to use your network will help you to meet your job search or career goals. Making a list of desired connections or useful groups is a productive way in making connections in your industry.

Use Social Media: Once you have your social media profiles cleaned up and professional, use them to make connections and reach out to find hidden jobs. You may be looking for a job that a friend of a friend happens to be hiring for.

Start a Group: Chances are you are not the only military spouse in your industry or community looking for a job or looking to advance in your career. Try finding other military spouses in your area that are also looking to network and start your own group.

Attend Career Activities on Base/Post: If you know of career groups or functions on base/post, if it is at all possible, attend them. The military is taking measures of bringing military friendly employers to you. Having an opportunity to attend can be a great way to make more connections as well as investigate companies you may have never thought of working for and that understand military lifestyle challenges.

Sign up for Local Job and Career Fairs: Just as you would attend on base/post functions, sign up for local job and career fairs. The best way to get your name out there with local organizations is to immerse yourself in the community.

Join Industry Organizations: By joining industry organizations you can expand your network extensively. Additionally, membership and industry organizations typically offer specialized networking events and other functions for you to make connections and discover unpublicized opportunities in your career field.

Give Just as You Receive: Not only is making connections important, but so is developing those relationships. Networking creates an atmosphere where you can also give back to those that have connected with you and provided you with professional support. As you nurture the relationships and connections, the more beneficial the relationship should become for all parties.

Become a Volunteer: There are few better ways to get your foot in the door than volunteering. Not only are you giving of your time, but you are performing actions that speak volumes on the type of person you are. Volunteering is also a fantastic way to show off your skills and abilities. Just remember to make it known that you are interested in potential employment. It may not be with the organization you are volunteering with, but the partnerships and connections the organization has could be a huge advantage.

Visit Family Support Centers or Education Offices: The military support services offered to spouses and families are abundant, so use them! Education offices and family support centers are great starting points for getting information on career development and on-base/post functions for military spouses and their careers.Get off Base/Post: Yes, you must leave the base/post where you live, shop, and spend most of your time. Outside of the gates and security of the military is an entire world of businesses and people looking for talented, cultured, and professional military spouses just like YOU!

Most military spouses probably already have a well-established network whether they realize it or not. Look around at your brother and sister spouses; they serve as an invaluable networking resource. As military spouses we get each other through the deployments, separations, lonely holidays, and all the greatness of being a military spouse. At the same time, military spouses are a great resource for career support and development, so take full advantage of the support system already in place. With the support of fellow military spouses and the above ten tips, your networking success should be just around the corner.

Jessica Howington is a prior stay at home mom with a background in education and healthcare. As a researcher and Team Lead for the writing team for the award-winning site FlexJobs , she strives to support those in search of flexible employment opportunities through finding and verifying legitimate flexible positions. She provides job search information, tips, and insight into the employment world related all job seekers through theFlexJobs Blog. 

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