Companies use them. Entrepreneurs use them. So too do politicians, advertisers and job seekers . . . all of these people use networks to advance their careers, engage clients and achieve their goals. You may not realize it just yet, but you have access to numerous networks simply by being in the military. Start using these networks to build career connections while you’re in the military and after you retire from the service.
One of the leading benefits you can receive after you join the military is the opportunity to connect with people from diverse backgrounds and various parts of the country and world. Many of the contacts that you make may be valuable to you for years. For example, a supervisor or sergeant that you report to might have teaching, writing, marketing or other job-related skills that you are as yet unaware of. As you start networking with this person, you can become aware of talents and abilities they possess that they don’t regularly use in the course of their everyday military assignments. Should you choose to launch your own business after you are honorably discharged, you can contact these people and hire them to work for you as contractors or employees.
People that you network with who are in the military can also introduce you to professionals both within and outside the military, people who can help you achieve your career and personal goals. But first you may need to hone your communication skills. College courses like Public Speaking and Presentation Skills, Fundamentals of Speech and Small Group Processes can help build your confidence to approach senior military and civilian leaders and ask them for assistance, guidance or support. You can also learn how to present your ideas, business plans and strategies to groups of people when you enroll in communications courses at accredited postsecondary schools. It’s worth it.
According to the August 18, 2009 Wall Street Journal “The Unexpected Benefits of Networking Events” article, “a solid professional network can help a candidate identify ‘unposted’ career opportunities.” Strong communication skills and networking also has psychological benefits as it gives you opportunities to communicate with people who share similar goals, life direction and passions that you do. Taking college courses to improve your communication skills can increase your confidence, making it easier for you to network with influential leaders. Additional courses you can take to improve your communication skills include Survey of Mass Communication, Elements of Debate, Human Communication Theory, Intercultural Communication and Communicating Nonverbal Messages.
Military and veteran associations, military charity organizations, sporting organizations and military speaker and professional associations are just a few types of military networks you can start to participate in. Should you start your own business after you’re honorably discharged from the military you may be able to tap into your military networks to build your client base and stay abreast of changes to policies and laws in your industry. If you decide to work for employers after you’re honorably discharged from the military, you can use your communication skills and networks to learn about new jobs, industry trends and training opportunities. Earn undergraduate or graduate communications degrees, and you can get hired into executive public relations, human resources, marketing or corporate communications roles.