You are doing a great job mastering the five steps to networking for military spouses. According to military brat and networking guru Lauren Fritsch, the steps are easier than they look. —especially when you have a little expert direction.
First, you start small, working by word of mouth from the people you already know. Then, you hit the Internet to do a little research and find the people and organizations in your area you’d like to connect with. After that, you set up a meeting and follow-up with some old-fashioned, analog thank yous. The last step: Go with what you know.
Join your tribe
If you want to be a writer, there has never been a more perfect time to join a book club or attend a lecture. If you’re a programmer, that startup tech talk at the library is a perfect place to meet potential employers. A teacher? Try a volunteer tutoring gig at the local schools.
When it comes to making new connections, you have to think creatively about how to get your foot in the door, says Lauren, and this can be a powerful way to do so. Welcome any opportunity to show your stuff, even if it’s just a volunteer gig.
Volunteer your services
Volunteering is just what did the trick for Laura. “I had taught for seven years before we moved to this base,” said this thirty-something Army wife. “I got certified in the new state, all was set to go. Except no one was hiring, and those that were had like thirty people all going out for the same job.”
But Laura knew her biggest asset in the application process was her experience, and showing it meant doing more than just relying on her resume. “I signed up for tutoring at the school right away,” she said. “That meant one-on-one time with students and teachers, and soon, I was on a first-name basis with the principal. She hired me that year.”
Collect your kind
Besides volunteering, another great outlet for connections can be collecting military spouses who do what you do, even if they’re hard to find.
If you’re an attorney, you’re in luck: the Military Spouse JD Network exists just for you. If you’re worried about licensing concerns or passing the bar in another state, they’re there to help.
But the rest of us aren’t always that lucky. There isn’t always an obvious place for us to find our peers. If you are a military spouse, that probably means you’ve got great problem solving skills. A little Google sleuthing and you might be able to find a small group of your peers.
Try Blue Star Spouse Networks, and Facebook, which is home to a lot of user-organized groups like Military Spouses in Teaching. They’ll know your battle first hand, and they may have more than just words of advice – they may know someone at your base who is not just a great contact, but also a potential employer.
Building out your professional network, especially when you’re submerged in an all-military, all-the-time world, can be tough at first. “It’s hard work,” says Lauren. But it’s also completely invaluable.
“I think when people stop having meetings, stop meeting people, even when they’re solidly at a job, that’s not a good idea. You need to consistently keep extending your network,” said Lauren.
And when you do that, it doesn’t matter where you’re going or what base you get sent to next. Your network – and all the connections in it – will travel with you.
For more information on networking, be sure to check out the rest of our networking resources and how-to’s, and take the time to visit Lauren’s website for more.