1. USE YOUR MILITARY NETWORK
The ex-military network is vast and very responsive. Veterans are always keen to help other ex-military people out so it is important to utilise this network. Reach out to former colleagues, connect with people on LinkedIn (see below) that work in your target industry, or talk to people you meet at events. Remember that other veterans have been in your shoes, so they can be the source of invaluable advice and guidance. They can also introduce you to others who can help - just don’t be afraid to ask!
The Liquid List holds events in London, Salisbury and the Midlands and is a great way to meet other veterans. Usually held in-person, these events are still currently being held online due to the Covid situation. If you are after a City of London-centric networking group, Citi Veterans CIC can help you to make lasting connections through its black-tie dinner events. If you are looking for something a little more specific, The Officers’ Association has a good list of networking groups on its website.
2. START NETWORKING WHILE SERVING
Starting to network before you leave the Forces will not only help to smooth your transition when you do leave, but it will also help to demonstrate that you are proactive and organised.
3. CONNECT WITH OTHERS USING SOCIAL MEDIA
LinkedIn has become an important tool to connect people with potential job roles and networking contacts, we recommend setting up a profile as soon as you can. Also look at The List that advertises networking opportunities and if you follow military charities and recruitment companies, they share networking opportunities - such as job fairs. See our separate guide to creating a LinkedIn profile - it is very different to a CV.
4. ATTEND JOB FAIRS
Ex-military jobs fairs organised by the CTP, BFRS or military charities such as The Officers’ Association are great ways to connect with employers and to make contact with other like-minded job seekers. Keep an eye on our opportunities page too to stay-up-to-date with news on the latest events.
5. RESETTLEMENT EVENTS
Many businesses run insight days for ex-military personnel, both face-to-face and virtually. These resettlement events are another great way to network and find out not just about job opportunities but graduate schemes too. Further details of job insight or training days can be found on our opportunities page or, if you are looking for information on a specific company, try searching our directory of Forces-friendly employers to see if they are holding any events specifically for veterans or members of the Armed Forces community.
6. PREPARE YOUR ELEVATOR SPEECH
Think of this as a brief introduction – a synopsis of your background and experience that shouldn’t last any longer than a few minutes or the duration of an elevator ride! This can be something you have practiced for face-to-face meetings or a brief introductory paragraph about who you are that you use when making a new connection online.
7. BE PROFESSIONAL
Networking meetings can be a potential gateway to a job interview. In many cases the people you meet when you network can – and will – put you in touch with employment opportunities or will line you up for a job interview if they are able. How you come across during your networking will impact whether or not your connection puts you in touch with their contact or recommends you for a job.
Once a connection has been made, make sure you send a follow up email. Try to follow up with them regularly, or at least engage with them on social media if no opportunities have come your way yet – a contact you made a year ago could happen to have an opportunity for you down the line. However, in order to access that opportunity that person has to be reminded of who you are and what you are looking for.
9. BE ORGANISED
You must know who you have contacted. Jot down when you met them, the outcome, and when they are due an update or chasing up to ensure you stay on top of things. Using a spreadsheet or a project management app are two good ways of doing this as you can access and update them while on-the-move.
10. CLOSE (SOME!) DOORS
Networking is about closing doors as well as opening them. If there is no benefit to maintaining a professional relationship with someone then don’t let it dishearten you, look at it as a positive – it had value in narrowing down your job focus.
When it comes to networking just remember that everyone is in the same boat. We all need to network in order to advance our careers and come across new opportunities so don’t be scared to take the plunge and start making connections.
For more networking tips, see our ultimate guide to networking in 2023. It will help you to decide how to approach your networking, which groups to target and what channels to use. If virtual networking is for you then, start by reading our top tips to online networking.