How Veterans Can Grow Their Professional Networks

grow veterans professional network

How You Can Grow Your Network as a Veteran

What does your professional network look like? If you are transitioning from military to civilian employment, thinking about taking college courses, or navigating your sixth PCS as a military spouse, a strong professional network can answer specific questions. You know, the ones that scouring the internet cannot.

Traditionally, networking occurred face-to-face and involved looking someone in the eye and physically shaking their hand. This is probably how you acquired the friends, coworkers and people you know through social organizations in your existing network.

Reasons To Develop A Robust Professional Network

There are many reasons why you should expand your existing network and develop a robust professional network.

  • To grow a network, you have to practice networking. When you practice networking, you are honing your soft skills – the skills needed to be successful in any career.
  • Career transitions have a funny way of creating head-scratching questions. A strong professional network can point you to answers and opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise find.
  • The majority of job vacancies are never posted online. Landing a job through a professional network is more common than you think.
  • Confidence in social situations – whether online or at a career fair – is gained through practice. Networking is professional practice.

Tools and Resources To Develop Your Professional Network

Countless professional networks already exist specifically for military community members. Taking advantage of some of these networking opportunities is an excellent way to grow your professional network.

FourBlock, a nationwide program, supports veterans in transition by helping them build professional networks that lead to meaningful employment. The FourBlock Career Readiness Program is a one semester accredited program where veterans learn to translate military skills and communicate their professional value to career opportunities and employers in the civilian world. The program is free for veterans.

LinkedIn offers a free upgrade to LinkedIn Premium to veterans and service members with ID.me accounts and military spouses with MySECO accounts – both free to open. This offer includes access to LinkedIn Learning, a library of 15,000 business, technical, and creative courses. The library includes three learning pathways specifically designed to bolster veterans, service members, and spouses in their professional careers.

  • Transition from Military to Civilian Employment Learning Pathway– Learn how to translate military skills to civilian workplaces, resume writing, networking, and salary negotiation skills.
  • Transition from Military to Student Life Learning Pathway– This bundle covers finding your purpose after active duty, test prep and writing courses, turning an internship into a job, and tackling interviews.
  • Get Ahead as a Military Spouse Learning Pathway – Learn the necessary skills of building a flexible career, professional networking, and finding work-life balance. This bundle also offers courses on freelance, remote work, and transitioning to a new company.

Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide effort by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to connect veterans, service members, and spouses with meaningful employment opportunities. Hiring Our Heroes holds Career Summits on U.S. Military Installations all over the globe that involve networking with potential employers. They also offer 6 to 12-week long Corporate Fellowship Programs that offer hands-on experience in the civilian workforce to transitioning service members and military spouses.

Veteran Mentor Network is a group of over 140,000 service members, veterans, and veteran supporters seeks to support the military community in meeting their career goals primarily through mentorship.

AWAG works to train and connect American-affiliated communities in leadership development training across the globe. They offer one and four-day seminars primarily in European military communities that invite spouses, service members, civilians, and retirees to network and collaborate in personal and professional growth.

Whether you are an active duty service member transitioning to the civilian workforce, a veteran preparing to apply to college, or a military spouse navigating a professional career, growing your network is important for success in transitions.

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About the author

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Chelsea Bostelman is a registered nurse who stays busy with freelance writing, exploring Europe, and working on a graduate degree in nursing. She founded the Stuttgart Nurse Journal Club to provide underemployed nurses with free continuing education opportunities. A 10-year military spouse, she and her family spend their free time hiking, biking, and eating in southern Germany.