This month we have a guest post from an imminent service leaver…
The Importance of Networking
‘It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you’
In October 2014 I tentatively entered the period of uncertainty that all service leavers have no choice but to enter. Unlike any other job where you can find a new company to move into, secure a new job and then hand your notice in to your current employer; the services do not allow for this. Nearly everyone has to take the step of handing in their notice before having the security of a new job to go into.
I was told of the importance of networking by numerous people and organisations as I started out on the road to transition. However, I was particularly dubious to the benefits of networking probably because I wasn’t entirely sure what it meant. I decided the best way to establish whether this networking idea was worthwhile or not was to give it a go. I have absolutely no doubt that this was the best decision I have made regarding my transition to civilian life. Since attending the Liquid List event in November I have gone on to attend two more networking events in Norwich, including the Leavers’ Link, where I have met a number of brilliant people. Although I am not yet in a position where I have secured a new career to move into and prove the quote at the head of this article I have no doubt that this is accurate. The people who attend these networking events probably won’t be able to offer you a job; they may do, but probably not. However that is not the point. At the Career Transition Workshop (CTW) they will talk about third order networking contacts, where somebody you meet will be able to put you in touch with somebody they know that may be able to offer better advice. It is the person that this contact puts you in touch with who is often a key decision maker within a company; the person who may be able to offer you a job.
It would be disingenuous of me if I was to say that all who attend these networking events offer sound advice. I would say the vast majority who turn up are there because they want to genuinely help. There will often be people who are there to sell you something; a course or professional CV writing service maybe. But these people are easy to spot (they often come in their company uniform) and therefore easy to avoid if you are not in need of their services.
Having been to three different events and planning on attending my fourth this week I would strongly encourage all service leavers of all ranks to embrace the importance of networking as they transition to civilian life. The earlier the better. If anybody has any reservations about networking or attending an event I would urge them to attend at least one; you will soon realise the benefits and help on offer.
Finally I would like to mention the organisers of these events. They are volunteers and do a fantastic job in putting service leavers in contact with civilian employers and they deserve a big thank you from all who benefit from these events. It should not be forgotten that it is not just the service leavers who benefit, the civilian employers are exposed to service leavers who have a lot to offer. They get to meet them in an informal setting and get to know people that their company may want to offer employment to.
I hope to see you at the next event.