Successful networking is easier said than done! Learn how to become a networking guru from Jamal Brown, who enrolled in the USMC Delayed Entry Program during his senior year of high school. Jamal served 11 years on Active Duty, and resigned as a Staff Sergeant of Marines, with an honorable discharge in May 2005. Currently Jamal serves as the Marine For Life Regional Network Coordinator, where he oversees the networking efforts of Marine For Life throughout the western United States.
Listening skills are important, especially when it comes to networking. By nature, Marines love talking about themselves and what they do. If you talk and don’t listen though, you might miss an opportunity. When I talk to Marines about networking, I tell them that a great way to establish rapport is to ask open-ended questions, a trick I learned on recruiting duty. Active listening skills are important, and a great way to establish rapport when networking.
Networking is Like Chow; It’s Continuous
The worst time to look for a job is when you really need one. I believe the same is true when it comes to networking, because it takes time to establish a network. In my opinion, networking should be done as often as possible, and not just when there’s a need. In sales, they teach you to “always be closing.” I’ve learned as a Regional Network Coordinator to always be networking, because the struggle is real!
Meet in Person Whenever Possible
Some people are more charismatic over the phone than others, but I’ve learned that there’s nothing better than face-to-face interaction. I would advise anyone to meet with others in person if the opportunity presents itself. You’ll likely establish a better rapport and be less likely to be forgotten!
The More You Network, the Better You Will Become at It
Like many people, I’m naturally introverted. Those with introverted personalities may find it challenging to start a conversation, making it rather difficult to be an effective networker. However, like anything else, the more you do it, the more comfortable you become. I would advise our introverted devil dogs to start out by simply attending networking events, career fairs, and the like.
Those still on active duty and those with base access might consider taking advantage of the career and resource fairs conducted on base. This is a great tactic for the novice networker because even if the networker doesn’t say much, it should help warm them up to the idea of being around a lot of people, and eventually, the conversations will begin! Another recommendation I often make to those uncomfortable with networking is to invite a buddy to attend the event with them. It may help the individual feel a bit more comfortable.
Sustain Your Network
Sustaining one’s network revolves around engagement. Constantly being engaged with your network is a great way of staying relevant to others. Managing one’s network is much like managing your personal brand: do what you can to stay relevant within your network and community. This may include making a commitment to attend a certain amount of networking events each month, or simply posting a certain number of networking posts on social media, much of which we’re accustomed to doing already.
Want more networking tips? Check out the article, Seven Tips for Effective Face-to-Face Networking.
Still searching for more in-depth assistance with networking Contact your installation’s Transition Readiness staff. Ready to put your networking skills into practice? Join the Marine For Life Network by completing the form at http://www.marineforlife.org. You can also follow Marine for Life on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.