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Whether you’re a civilian or military veteran, when the time comes to embark on a career, you need to look beyond your comfort zone to build a career network that will help you land your dream job.

How To Build A Career Network

According to Hallie Crawford, founder of career coaching services company HallieCrawford.com, your network often consists of your immediate social circle of your friends and family - but you need to think bigger than that. “My network includes all my old flying buddies,” says Randy Gibb, a retired colonel with the U.S. Air Force. When he decided to retire after 26 years of service and pursue a career in higher education, he knew he had to cast his net wider. Career networking websites like LinkedIn, professional association meetings, and friends of friends and family members were an obvious way for Gibb to make new connections, but he soon learned that opportunities to expand his network could be found anywhere. His most fruitful contact? The mother of a child who attends his daughter’s preschool. He noticed her e-mail signature on a message she sent home about a school gathering, and her area of business caught his eye. Crawford sees this approach repeated over and over for her clients, who have found leads and jobs through people they have met at weddings, parties and their children’s daycare center. She says that networking can happen anywhere as long as you’re open to it. All the opportunities in the world won’t make a difference if you’re not prepared to seize them, cautions Crawford. She advises her job seeking clients to always have business cards handy and to have their elevator speech prepared so they can quickly explain who they are, what they are looking for, and what they bring to the table. Above all, remember that you are networking every single day, not only when you are searching for a job.

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