It’s not rocket science or millions of people wouldn’t be doing it so successfully. And you know how to do it, too, if you take the time.

Tip 1. Define your Plan
Start with a plan. What do you need to do now and what will you do once you are in your desired civilian location? What do you want to get from your networking efforts in terms of your job search and future success?

When building your network, it is smart to start with military friends and peers. You can probably still find many, if you have lost touch. Some will be valuable references, others can tell you what they did ‘best and worst’ in their job search. If you are returning to your original hometown, re-connect now with people you know is smart.

While on active duty, begin to build your civilian network through LinkedIn and its interest groups, Twitter, alumni organizations, and professional/trade associations. This will help you learn more about civilian opportunities and find people to help you to the right job/career.

Here is a “cheat sheet” of categories – build your networking ideas list from it:

  • Professional groups’ meetings – such as: national/local groups in your chosen field, chambers of commerce, job clubs, veteran or alumni groups.
  • Individual meetings – specific people in your field and outside it.
  • Developmental events – seminars, conferences, courses in your field.
  • Reconnect – with people you value but have not connected with lately.
  • Community groups, religious, or kid’s teams and so on
  • Online aids – LinkedIn, Twitter, MeetUp, etc.


Tip 2. Define your goals
Don’t just go to events, send email or have coffee with friends and call it networking.  Define what you need, what you offer, and what you will do in fairly specific terms.

Numbers alone are not worth much. You want quality connections for mutual benefit.


  • What do you want to learn from each contact? Such as market info, career field insights, resume review
  • What will you share about yourself?
  • What help do you want next – such as: company info, references, referrals?
  • Who do you know you might introduce to this contact?
  • Who will you ask for introductions and to whom?
  • What will you offer in return?

LinkedIn has a number of groups designed to help transitioning military – and many people on them who really want to help. Keep your online comments positive. Ask for the help you want, but do not whine about the difficulties of your search. No prospective employer is going to be impressed if they see a litany of negative comments.


Tip 3. Make it Easy
Never go to an event without a plan, just like every other project you ever participated in. It could be to meet specific people or to learn something specific in talking with people there. Remember to talk about the market, your job interests, and other things you want to know. And to learn about each one and offer any assistance you can!

Have a goal when you meet with an individual or small group too. What do you want out of the meeting? What are you offering in return?

Bottom Line
Keep going! Networking builds on itself. If you build good connections and are helpful in return, you will find it easy to maintain your network consistently over time. Pick a process, make a plan, and execute it for your transition success – and beyond!


Adapted from article I published on LinkedIn Pulse.