A personal viewpoint from MGySgt Charles Bushnell (Ret)
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines networking as the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business… Hal Lancaster who dispenses career advice to managers and professionals every Tuesday in Managing Your Career, which appears on The Wall Street Journal’s Marketplace page also states that “networking remains the No. 1 cause of job attainment …”
We’ve all heard the term networking for many years and, honestly, we’ve all done it, in one fashion or another. Whether you’re attending a professional event and handing out business cards while meeting new people, or just keeping in touch with friends and acquaintances, networking is a very valuable tool. Networking can open up opportunities.
For many years after the Marine Corps I was a hiring Manager for the company I worked for. I would go through piles of applications and resumes from a variety of job postings which was challenging. Most enlightening, was you never really knew about the candidate until it came time for the interview. One of the key desires on the posting was for people who had experience working with Marines. This was mainly due to our business being Marine Corps-centric at the time. I needed people who could work and communicate effectively with not just Marines, but also Government personnel supporting the Marines. When I was looking to fill a position, if I didn’t have someone in mind, I was always putting out feelers to my network to see if anyone knew of some top performers that were available.
When you work hard to complete missions effectively and on time it brings positive attention to you in the Marine Corps. In the civilian sector your continued good work ethic gains you admiration, respect, monetary bonuses and advancements.
For me, personally, this is exactly what happened after I retired from the Marine Corps. I had networked prior to retirement and felt comfortable at the prospect of a decent government position for which we were just waiting for the official retirement date to arrive to start the process. Then out of the blue, while we were riding across America on a Harley, I received a call from a friend and retired Marine who was asking for my resume for a particular position. He was not the hiring manager, but because of him, I was called for interviews for that position.
Networking can get your foot in the door at least for the interview and you never know where that source might come from which is the most important step in the hiring process. The rest is then up to you. Also remember to never be afraid to take that mid-level position. Your performance can quickly grow you within the company.