Job Action Day: 5 Quick Tips to Rebuild Your Network

This year’s Job Action Day is about helping our military transition from a Military Career to a New Career.

With broad military experience that typically requires travel for extended periods while on active duty, it can be difficult to maintain a network that will be there for you when you’re ready to transition to a civilian career. Here are some tips to reconnect and rebuild your network:

1) Create a networking plan. Breaking networking down into manageable time chunks helps eliminate overwhelm. Networking does not have to be a two-hour lunch or a boring event. Choose those activities that are right for you and your career goals.
2) Design a sound bite. Be clear about your career goal, what you bring to the table, and where you might want to work. The better focused you are, the better people can help you. And they do want to help!
3) Research and reach out via social media. With social media, location is not a barrier. If you’re stationed in a different location than where you’re planning to live upon your military retirement, social media is a good way to start rebuilding those local connections. The top three tools I recommend are: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You can follow thought leaders, companies, and businesses on Twitter. With LinkedIn, explore groups serving the military, college alumni, and other groups serving your target audience (type of company you wish to work for, type of career you wish to pursue). Use Facebook to connect and reconnect with family and friends.
4) Make a call. Oftentimes we are so into social we forget to pick up the phone. Voice to voice is a great way to rebuild connections. It’s more personal. Skype enables video with the call, which is almost like being there.
5) Meet in person. Already moved to your desired location? Attend local events. Explore organizations serving the military. (Not sure who serves military in your area? A quick Google search will reveal several organizations. Choose those that best fit your situation.) Volunteer for an organization you believe in. Volunteering leads to connections to local leaders and others passionate about the same things you value. Set up meetings with those in your network. Sound uncomfortable? Keep in mind, you served our country. People will want to help you. They just need to know how best to do so. Keep meetings short and on track.

After you’ve taken action on some of the above activities, follow up with those you’ve talked to and let them know how their information has helped. Stay connected. That way your network will be there for you the next time you need it. Thank you for your service to our country.

Copyright 2013: Wendy Terwelp – all rights reserved.

Wendy Terwelp is president of Opportunity Knocks and author of the Rock Your Network® series. Dubbed a “LinkedIn Guru,” by the Washington Post, Terwelp provides consulting services, speaking engagements, and workshops on social media, networking, branding and career development for conferences, associations, and companies nationwide. Her private coaching clients regularly win raises, promotions, and jobs. Named one of the Top 15 Career Masterminds, Top 100 Twitter Accounts Job Seekers Must Follow, and Top 51 Job Search Blog posts, Terwelp is quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, The Business Journal, More Magazine, radio, TV and other media.

Is your LinkedIn bio lost in translation?

How often have you read someone’s LinkedIn bio and wondered, “What are they talking about?” It’s full of jargon, terms, and acronyms foreign to anyone outside the person’s industry.

They have “The Curse of Knowledge,” which Chip and Dan Heath call this “symptom” in their book, “Made to Stick.” To an industry insider, these terms are common, used daily, and understood by all involved. So much so, that to anyone outside the industry, it’s confusing and just plain gibberish.

In the above image, you see typical everyday terms used by human resource professionals (HR), eCommerce, Accounting, Marketing Communications (MarComm), and Chief Executives (any Chief-level role is considered a “C-Suite” professional).

Were you lost in translation looking at the image heading this post? While Google can help define the terms, people wanting to hire you or work with you won’t take the time to Google it. Instead, they’ll move on to the next LinkedIn bio whose writer makes things easy to understand.

How can you avoid the “Curse of Knowledge?” Have a family member or non-industry friend read your bio BEFORE you put it on LinkedIn or other social networks or your book jacket or use it as a speech introduction. (Can you imagine a person introducing you who is not familiar with the jargon?) If your mom has no idea what you’re talking about, you’ve got “The Curse of Knowledge” and need to reword the bio.

If you must use some jargon, spell it out first, then use the acronym afterword. Like this, Full-Time Employee (FTE). This is a cool benefit because you’re using good keywords (think search terms) twice. That way, depending on who’s conducting the LinkedIn search, you’ll have a greater chance of getting the call.

Check out my book Rock Your Network® for a LinkedIn “bio that rocks” template and advice in creating your own compelling “About” bio. If you’d like your About section written for you, let’s talk!

Post updated Dec. 2022 | Wendy Terwelp founded Opportunity Knocks of Wisconsin, LLC a boutique career development firm in Wisconsin in 1998 to help organizations and professionals attract and retain employees, win clients through effective networking, and position leaders like YOU for career success on your terms. Her private career coaching clients regularly win raises, promotions, and gigs. Career development services include employer branding, personal branding, networking online and off, career coaching, and career search strategies.

Conference Networking Rock Star: Kamala’s Story

Meet Kamala. She attended last week’s ASTD 2013 International Conference & Expo. She was in job seeker mode and came to the conference career center for some coaching where she was scheduled to meet me. Here’s what happened next – in Kamala’s own words – and I warn you – it’s super awesome!

Looking for a job is never easy, and it seems to be harder than ever these days.  Things have changed considerably and will continue to change, which can be truly difficult when you have always approached them in the same way.  This is where I was at when I decided to make a change in my career.  I had never had a problem finding a job before; how I did things had always worked for me.  Even though I thought I had adapted to the current ways of searching and networking for jobs, I was not confident that I had, so I was looking for expert advice.  When I looked into the Career Center at the conference, I found I could make an appointment with a Career Coach, so I did.  I had an awesome meeting with Wendy Terwelp on Monday, and highly, highly recommend Wendy and the Career Center.

Although I readily adapt to change, I found I was still approaching conversations from an awkward stance.  Wendy and I discussed how to have more natural conversations with people as people, as opposed to approaching them for what they may be able to do for you – hire you, refer you, connect you to their network, etc.

Later when I went to lunch, as I was approaching a table those thoughts were right there (bad habits!) as I saw the opportunity to meet a lot of new, potential contacts.  And I stopped.  I decided I would just have lunch.  When I made that change in my thinking, everything else began changing.  I met wonderful people, and had great conversations.  I made a lot of contacts, some of which now have great potential to become jobs.  This continued to happen throughout the conference as I had experiences I could not have dreamed of having.  I don’t believe this would have happened had I not relaxed and changed my thinking.  I met people that day at lunch and throughout the conference, not prospects, and they are priceless to me.  Thank you to Wendy, Pat Byrd from the Career Center and everyone else there.  They could not have been kinder or more supportive!  They are a great group, and I look forward to seeing them again next year.

Thank YOU Kamala for sharing your story! Just a tweak in thought pattern created big wins. Here’s a fave quote of mine from Wayne Dyer: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Kamala has proven this to be true and you can too.

Recruiter Secrets to What Employers Want

George_Blomgren_med - picGuest Expert, George Blomgren,
MRA, The Management Association

What are employers looking for in candidates these days? That depends a lot on the company and the jobs for which they are hiring. Here are two common trends:

The first won’t come as a surprise. Companies are hiring because they are swamped. They are so desperately in need of additional staff they have  limited resources to train new staff. With this in mind, employers look for candidates who can hit the ground running — or as close to that as possible. This means they aren’t willing to deviate much from the requirements defined in the job description or posting. It also means they are looking for evidence that candidates can adapt to change and to new challenges. (Today 20 years in the same job at the same employer is no longer viewed as a good thing!)

The second trend may come as a surprise. Employers aren’t looking to hire superstars – that is, candidates who distinguished themselves as star performers in previous positions. They assume those candidates have peaked and now it’s all downhill. Rather, they are looking to hire candidates who have yet to peak. The candidate who is really ready to take that next step in their career and take things to the next level. For candidates with diverse backgrounds, who may have felt defensive explaining how their background fits together, this can be especially beneficial. If you can create a compelling case to an employer on why your diverse work experience makes you uniquely qualified for the position, you may get the job!

As a recruiter, I look for evidence of these things in your resume and your cover letter, and of course during interviews. But first and foremost, I look for it on your LinkedIn profile.

George Blomgren is the  Director of Recruiting Solutions for MRA – The Management Association. George has 20+ years of talent acquisition (aka recruiting),  and operations experience. Prior to joining MRA, George ran the advertising and marketing department for a fast-growing network of local employment websites.

Received referrals? Act fast!

George_Blomgren_med - picGuest Expert, George Blomgren,
MRA, The Management Association

When you are networking and receive additional names from your networking connections, treat those referrals like gold.

Here’s why: Let’s say I shared the names of a couple of trusted colleagues with you after meeting you for the first time. It’s important you follow up with those referrals quickly. Chances are good, I’ll reach out and let that person know you will be in touch.

If you wait to contact them, you lose the advantage and make yourself look bad. Plus, if you don’t follow up, and I reach out and find you haven’t acted, you dropped the ball. I invested some of my reputation in you by handing over a friend’s contact info, and now I regret it. Nothing good can come from that!

Should you reach out quickly and professionally the opposite happens: you look responsible and professional, plus everybody is impressed.

One more reason to act fast: A great salesman once told me that there’s always a temptation, after closing a big sale, to go home early and celebrate. He advised me to do the opposite. That’s the perfect time to keep making phone calls. You’re on top of the world and everyone can hear it in your voice. The same applies here. You just had a good networking meeting and landed a couple of fresh leads – strike while you’re feeling good!

George Blomgren is the  Director of Recruiting Solutions for MRA – The Management Association. George has 20+ years of talent acquisition (aka recruiting),  and operations experience. Prior to joining MRA, George ran the advertising and marketing department for a fast-growing network of local employment websites.