Basic Networking – 7 Practical Tips for Your Military-to-Civilian Career Transition

Could networking help land your next job?

Want to know the most underrated tool in your job search? A solid professional network! Some studies found that a sizable portion (some sources claim up to 85 percent) of jobs are found through networking.

While technology can certainly help, the process of building a network still relies on human interaction. As you transition from military life into your new career, use these networking tips to establish a strong professional network and boost your results in the civilian job market.

1) Clarify Your Mission

Before diving in, define your objectives clearly. Determine what you aim to achieve through networking, whether it’s career advancement opportunities, mentorship from seasoned veterans, or new industry connections. Having well-defined goals will focus your networking efforts and make them more effective.

2) Start with Contacts You Know

If your goal is to stay in your current industry, consider asking your civilian and contractor colleagues about their own organization. They may be able to put you in contact with the hiring manager and provide realistic insight into the company. In fact, many organizations pay a referral bonus to employees that bring in new employees, so you may be doing your contact a favor.

If you are changing industries, include friends and family in your network. Let them know about your desired career change and preferences. Ask if they have relevant contacts to connect with.

A military mentoring network is another excellent way to build contacts by either industry or geographical region. A few great mentorship programs for veterans, military spouses, and transitioning military service members include: American Corporate Partners (ACP), Still Serving Veterans (SSV), and Veterati.

3) Build Authentic Relationships

Authenticity is key to building meaningful connections. Networking is not just about collecting business cards or connections; it’s about building relationships.

Approach networking with a mindset of getting to know people and offering value, rather than just focusing on your own career. Be sincere in your interactions and interest in others’ experiences and expertise.

4) Leverage Both Digital and Physical Platforms

Networking opportunities exist both online and offline. Attending conferences, seminars, and career fairs are excellent ways to meet people face-to-face. You may also consider exploring alumni networks from colleges, technical schools, or military institutions you attended.

Take advantage of digital networking platforms like LinkedIn to connect with professionals in your field and join relevant groups and discussions.

Did you know RecruitMilitary offers free online and in-person career fairs? See how this military spouse found her job by networking at a recent event.

5) Seek Ways to Support Others

One of the most effective networking strategies is to give before you receive. Look for ways to offer assistance, share resources, or make introductions that can benefit others in your network. Being generous and helpful will build goodwill and strengthen your relationships, making people more willing to support you in return.

Stay active and visible in your industry or community by participating in discussions, sharing insights, and contributing valuable content. This could involve writing articles, giving presentations, or volunteering for leadership roles in relevant organizations.

6) Maintain Ongoing Communication

After making initial connections, don’t let them fade away. Follow up with your contacts regularly to maintain the relationship. A simple offer to take someone to coffee for an informational interview could add several key contacts to your roster. Send relevant articles and other resources to your new contacts. Consistent communication will help you stay top of mind and deepen your connections over time.

Invest time in nurturing your connections by staying in touch, offering help or advice when needed, and celebrating others’ success and milestones. Building strong relationships may take time and effort but is incredibly valuable in the long run.

7) Challenge Your Own Social Hesitations

Even if you are an introvert by nature, stay open to chance encounters in various settings like airplanes, elevators, or sporting events. Networking may require you to step outside of your comfort zone, but starting small can help.

Participate in interest groups aligned with your hobbies or beliefs, such as church groups, sports leagues, or service organizations. Even if you’re not naturally outgoing, shared interests make joining such groups easier. Finding common ground can provide a natural starting point for conversation and help you feel more at ease.


Ready to empower your job search? Start by completing your RecruitMilitary profile and meet employers dedicated to hiring from the military community.