By Don Orlando
Your transitioning military clients know all about networking. The concept has been part of their culture for more than 200 years. The NCO who can always seem to get what the unit needs—even when official channels seem to block him—knows how to network. The staff officer who’s been asked to brief a general officer on a subject the staffer knows little about knows how to network. Every person who wore a uniform and planned his or her career knows how to network. These masters of military networking may be a total loss when it comes to social networking, specifically how to get the most out of LinkedIn. People like Jason Alba have written entire books about using LinkedIn so I won’t attempt anything like a comprehensive review here. Rather, let me just note the key points that apply particularly to your military transitioning client.
Headlines (the brand statements that appear just below the name on every profile) are vitally important. During a Global Career Brain Storming Day, Wayne Mitchell, a top recruiter, said the headline is one of the first thing independent recruiters look at. But it can be hard for a veteran to write because she’s done so many different things well. The typical military client thinks of himself as a leader. Yet leadership isn’t a career field, or even a well-developed brand statement. It’s a vital tool used in almost every endeavor. You may have to work extra hard to help your military client determine his or her career field as a first step to defining his or her brand. That will lead to a powerful LinkedIn headline. LI’s special groups might be particularly useful for this kind of client. Enter the terms “military veteran” in the LI Group Directory search engine and you’ll get hundreds of matches. With the career field in mind, your client can narrow her search to the right groups. Once she finds the right group, have look together at a few profiles for group members. You are looking for two examples. First, find a typical profile: little more than a posted resume, a very small network, and sparse updates. Then search for a top notch one. Your client will see the difference at once, and you’ll both have a standard against which to aim.
Your military transitioning client probably has much better networking skills than his civilian counterpart. But he needs our help to make the culture shift that will put those skills to work in his new career.