Author: Britni Miltner, Navy Spouse, MSOY NSA MidSouth 2019
The military spouse community is a network that is rich in knowledge, experience, and support. My thriving network of military spouses has taught me so much about myself, this military life, resilience, and the importance of relying on community.
Military spouses are the most understanding, flexible, supportive, and loyal people I have ever known. We must be for various obvious reasons, which makes us valuable network connections. Additionally, military spouses are generous and willing to help.
Networking is so important, not only for business and professional needs but also for personal growth. I’ve had several professional connections lead to personal friends and vice versa.
When I’m looking for a specific product or service, I check with my military network first. When I discover a military spouse-owned company, I look it up on LinkedIn and request to connect with the owners and employees. Sometimes I am already connected with them, or I recognize their name from one of the groups I’m in, which typically leads to a connection!
So, the question is: How do you network?
It’s genuinely not as intimidating as it sounds. Sure, you’ll have to put on pants and attend some in-person events at some point, but as we’ve learned over the past year, networking can be done online. The secret is taking the first step.
I join Facebook groups and participate in discussions. I create new topics and ask questions. I keep my profile current on LinkedIn. I also look for the local military support groups in my area and get involved either as a general member or in a leadership role. I utilize LinkedIn daily.
You may have the perception that LinkedIn is typically used by serious professionals, which is somewhat true. I highly recommend that you have a LinkedIn profile, no matter your situation or experience. You can use this time to build up your connections until you’re ready to join or get back into that “professional world.” Be a resource for others. YOU have something to offer; help others by engaging with their LinkedIn posts or endorsing skills. The typical reciprocal action is to engage back, which is great for your LinkedIn profile visibility.
Several LinkedIn how-to resources are available for military families – a quick Google search or a MilSpouse Facebook group post will result in various available resources. Join spouse networking groups and connect with other military spouse professionals. I believe that connections are SO important – you never know who you’ll meet!
Step OUT of the MilSpouse community and connect with the LOCAL community you’re physically in. View each interaction as a connection that could potentially benefit you or others.
You can connect with like-minded individuals by taking classes and doing things you love. Meetup and Facebook groups have been a great way for me to get connected and volunteer for local non-profits. Look for community events through the local community center.
Young Professional networking groups (Jaycees – Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, etc.) are fantastic to network.
The options are plentiful; It’s up to you to take the first step in networking – it indeed can be scary, but you can do it!
Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you’ll realize that building your network isn’t as overwhelming as you once thought it was – and you’ll continue to gain new friends and build your connections. Before you know it, you’ll be networking like a pro!
About the Author
Britni grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated from Auburn University in 2004 with a degree in Entrepreneurship and Family Business. Britni has been a Navy spouse since 2007, a remote employee since 2008, and is considered to be a seasoned people connector.
Britni has several years of experience in multiple military spouse support groups serving in various roles including Armed Forces Insurance’s Military Spouse of the Year.
Milspouse employment and remote work are among her passions; she is a wife, mom, Realync tech enthusiast, wannabe yogi, and loves helping others.
MSOY NSA MidSouth 2019