There are many ways to begin making connections and building your network inside the private sector. The best case scenario typically involves reaching out to someone you know – perhaps a former military colleague or a neighbor – working at a company of particular interest to you.
Social media offers another avenue to do research and scout out potential points of contact in your target industry.
And of course, attending select career fairs and other veteran service organization events that offer a chance to meet with private sector representatives provide a way to meet face-to-face with individuals in the sectors of interest to you.
Another effective strategy is to tap into area chambers of commerce and other key business organizations with programs and networking opportunities specifically designed for veterans. Many groups are looking for ways to connect with veterans, highlight job opportunities, offer mentoring and other support. Unfortunately, these efforts don’t always reach their intended target audience, in part because veterans don’t always recognize these groups as an important avenue to explore during the transition process.
One example in the Northern Virginia area is the Veterans’ Employment Initiative launched by the Northern Virginia Technology Council. You can find out more about this organization’s efforts to connect transitioning military leaders with private sector opportunities by visiting http://bit.ly/1jdKTRq
Across the country, local business organizations are stepping up to lend support and open pathways. Whether you are interested in starting your own small business, seeking to connect with a major employer in your region or looking for a place to begin building business connections, it makes sense to explore organizations in your area to learn more about what they offer and consider, in turn, what you might offer them. For example, you might offer to serve on a chamber committee or to lend a hand at one of their networking events. This gives you direct interaction time with the organization’s membership and a chance to become more familiar with staff and the organization’s leadership.
If you are interested in exploring the private sector as a second career, do your homework and take the time to reach out to area business groups; you may be surprised at the doors that might open as you seek out a new career niche in the corporate world.