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Leavers’ Link Top 5 Networking Tips for Service Leavers & Veterans

Networking…what’s it all about?  To the uninitiated Service Leaver or Veteran it may seem a little strange to go and socialise or conduct informal business in a room full of people most of whom you don’t know.   But at Leavers’ Link we know and actively promote that networking at events, seminars and industry events days can bring enlightenment, market intelligence and reward!  Here’s our top 5 tips to maximise your networking opportunities!

  1. Invest early in networking.

After many years in Service it’s wise to invest time in finding out what’s really out there in your local area.  What are you looking for?  Of a million and one jobs and roles out there what’s it really like to work in Corporate Construction, Financial Services or Insurance Project Management?  Best to ask those who are out there at one of the many Service Leavers Networking events nationwide.  Most are free and savvy recruiters attend too; checkout the Leavers’ Link, Officers’ Association and Liquid List events pages on websites and LinkedIn pages.

  1. Step outside your comfort zone…there’s a big world of business out there!

So are you looking for a Corporate, SME or a self-employed ‘consultancy’ or ‘interim’ second career…..or you really don’t know?   After starting in the ‘Service Leavers’ arena of events, go explore!  Anything that will aide you from making a poor decision is worthy of investment….but where?  Take Colchester as an example.  A Borough of c.200,000 people, 6,500 business’ with 80,000 employees in the town without a single major FTSE 100 Global Corporate Head Office or production facility; no surprise there are 27 known networking events for SME employers every week!  Choose your sectors of interest and head for step 3.

  1. So where do I find these events? There’s a range of sources to find your local events.

We recommend getting in touch with your local ‘Employer Bodies’ suited to what you’re looking to do.  County ‘Chambers of Commerce’, the ‘Institute of Directors’ and ‘Federation of Small Business’ all have ‘Brand Identity’ and are Armed Forces Covenant Signatories; they host networking events and all have fertile networks and details of other events in your county or region.  It’s also wise to check the Trade Forums of your ‘chosen’ industry;  many host nationwide quarterly or 6 monthly ‘Industry Days’;  guest speakers and trade stands maybe, but they’re also really fertile networking opportunities.  Checkout out who will be exhibiting and do your research before you pitch up;  finally, when you sign up to attend, tell people you’re going on social media…..recruiters and many others are looking!

  1. You are your profile, invest in Social Media and be your own brand!

As soon as you start preparing to hit the market and forever more in business, make sure you’re LinkedIn profile is as smart as you, up to date and sells you as you want to be seen.  There’s so many a Service Leaver profile out there with no photograph, quoting his job as ‘sniper’ or ‘Battery OC’ ;  look out to your network to those old oppos who you know that have left and improve on their offering.  Remember it’s a competitive market place, more so and especially if you have no commercial experience and after each and every networking event those who you’ve been talking too will be checking your profile.

If you’ve a business card, make sure it’s basic, not your ‘MOD J1-9 XXXX- XXXX’ or whatever you were or still are:  Name, mobile number email address, keep it simple and don’t pigeon-hole yourself with a job title.  On social media join LinkedIn Groups that interest you in where you want to go not in what you are.  Engage in ‘Discussions’, but be wise when you do so and if you’ve ‘breaking news’ that you think will be of interest [and will promote you well] Share It; be prepared to engage with those who challenge your opinion!

  1. Follow up, cultivate and re invest!

When invited make sure you follow up and be swift about it!  Get in touch within 24 hours and as your network grows smartly cultivate a top 10 who you routinely stay in ‘Touch’ with;  the Touch is your catch up, call for coffee, intelligent insight, or savvy invitation or offering once every 27 days;  they might not be in the zone to offer you a role, but when you’re in your ‘dream job’ you’ll be surprised by how many of your new professional network do get in and stay in touch!  It’s then over to you to re-invest your time and effort in those c.20,000 Service Lavers coming along behind you every year. Do what you can to influence your business to invest in the Covenant and more employees like you!!

There’s so much more to networking, but we hope that following our learned advice will provide you with some essentials that will endure well into your time in Civvie Street;  it’s the same for all of us as Service Leavers and Veterans, business is competitive and in the view of Leavers’ Link it’s better to be armed and ready with the advantage of with a strong and flourishing network.

Get in touch over our social media platforms to find out more about Leavers’ Link events in East Anglia and other events nationwide.  Facebook and LinkedIn:  Leavers’ link and Twitter @leaverslink

Thanks for your time folks…

The Leavers’ Link Team