Networking is a theme that runs through all aspects of transition. But what’s the best time to start and how do you nurture your network over the years? Former Officer Lyn Webb spent 22 years in the RAF before leaving as a Wing Commander in 2014. She is currently a management consultant at Deloitte.
When it comes to where you should start your networking efforts, Lyn advises: “There are a plethora of networks out there. I used the OA extensively, particularly the network contact list, but there is also LinkedIn and remember you have your own networks too.”
So when should you start networking? “I started my networking really early. I told the Airforce I was going to leave six months before I left and I had been networking for a year prior to that. In an ideal world, start as early as possible.”
“Think about your networking, plot it out like a campaign. This is a really good transferable skill and you just have to translate it into this challenge. What do you want to do? Go out and meet a wide range of people and find out what’s out there. Cast your net wide. Also, look at careers that you don’t want to do as it will give you practise.”
When it comes to the challenges of networking for Officers, ‘I’m no good at selling’ or ‘I don’t know how to open the conversation’ is something that is heard often, yet Lyn believes that Officers have been networking throughout their Service careers. “Everytime I have had to go out on a different tour more often than not you are thrown in at the deep-end. many of us have been tri-service, most of us have worked with different nations and we have had to make a fresh start every two – four years.Yes more often you are more comfortable with the military environment so you may feel that you re going into an increasingly alien environment and selling is something that you can’t do. But I think we have all been selling ourselves for our entire careers. We’ve had to learn a new environment incredibly quickly.
So once you have formed your network, why should you nurture your network? “You never stop needing your network, says Lyn. Remember some of the people in your network may have been there when you got your first job and they should still be there when you want to move on. The return is proportionate to the effort you put in.”
Lyn’s top networking tips:
- Start your networking early.
- Always have your CV with you.
- Prepare your elevator pitch. What are the 3 key points you want people to take away about you?
- Treat networking like a campaign and use it to work out what you want to do.
- Don’t fear the knockbacks, it’s two –way process, so if you dont like them, leave.
Listen to the Networking for Success webinar here