Episode 218. Networking Tips for Military Women Transitioning to Civilian Life

May 8, 2024

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Why Networking Matters

Networking is more than just exchanging business cards or making small talk. It’s about building genuine connections with others, sharing experiences, and learning from each other. As a military woman transitioning into a new career, networking can open doors to opportunities you may not have considered before. Whether you’re exploring entrepreneurship, real estate, corporate sectors, or any other field, networking can help you connect with like-minded individuals and expand your professional circle.

 Getting Started: Tips for Effective Networking
1. Start with Fellow Veterans: Connecting with other veterans can provide a sense of comfort and understanding. Reach out to fellow military individuals who have transitioned into roles you’re interested in and ask them about their journey. One simple question like, “How did you get into this role?” can spark meaningful conversations and insights.
2. Attend In-Person Events: While balancing family responsibilities and busy schedules, attending in-person events may seem challenging. However, these events can be valuable opportunities to meet people with similar interests and backgrounds. Show up, be present, and focus on listening to others’ stories to leave a lasting impact.
3. Utilize Social Media, Especially LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a powerful platform for connecting with professionals across various industries. Reach out to individuals whose career paths inspire you and ask them about their experiences. By engaging with others on social media, you can broaden your network and gain valuable industry insights.
Networking as a military woman in career transition can be a rewarding experience filled with growth and connection. Remember, networking is not about presenting a perfect image but about listening, learning, and building authentic relationships. Embrace the journey, stay curious, and be open to the possibilities that networking can offer.
If you’re navigating your military transition and looking for guidance or support, feel free to reach out to me directly on LinkedIn: Together, we can navigate the networking landscape and empower each other to succeed in our career pursuits.
I hope these insights and tips have inspired you to approach networking with confidence and purpose. Remember, networking is a powerful tool that can propel you towards new opportunities and connections. Embrace the process, stay true to yourself, and watch your career transition flourish. Thank you for tuning in, and until next time, keep networking and growing!

Join me on May 15th at 12PM ET for “How Women Veterans Can Navigate a Stressful Military Transition with Confidence”


[00:00:00] Wendi: Hey sis, welcome to Beyond the Military Podcast, where faith led military women overcome burnout and create more balance. Just imagine having enough time to focus on your faith, family, and have more fun while still serving as a woman leader. In this podcast, you will walk away with the tools to help you navigate the busy life of a military woman, organize your mind, overcome overwhelm, create a prioritization playbook, and a balanced blueprint for integrating faith, family, and career.

[00:00:28] Wendi: Yeses in that order. Hi, I’m Wendi Wray, woman of God, wife, mama of two, army veteran, and certified life coach. And I’m here to help you create a life of meaning outside of the military, a life of laughter, joy, and intentional free time. If you are ready to overcome burnout and create balance as a faith led military woman, sis, this podcast is for you.

[00:00:50] Wendi: So loosen up your laces and grab your coffee because it’s time to step into freedom and peace.

[00:00:55] Wendi: Hello ladies and welcome to episode [00:01:00] 218. I’m so happy that you’re tuning in today. And if you stumbled upon this podcast, welcome. And if you have been tuning in with us for the past 217 episodes, I want to say thank you for tuning in and just coming back. Listen, if this podcast resonates with you, this episode resonates with you, please be sure to share this with another woman veteran, with another military woman, because this is what is the goal for me and for this platform to continue to share this podcast so that other women can learn not only for Tips for their life, but also for their career transition.

[00:01:40] Wendi: And today we are talking about networking. And I know that this is something or a topic that a lot of us shred. Um, especially if you’re someone that doesn’t like to interact with people, it’s completely okay. And today I want to share with you why it’s important, why you want to start now, regardless of where you [00:02:00] are with your career transition.

[00:02:01] Wendi: Transition out of the military. Why you want to do this in a way where it’s comfortable where this is more genuine for you because it’s definitely going to show in the future. And so I want to give you practical tips today that you can literally go after you listen to this episode and start applying right away.

[00:02:22] Wendi: Why? Because it matters. It’s important. And I’m here to help you along this journey because it’s tough. The military transition is tough. No matter if you are going to be a stay at home mom, if you are going to school, if you decide to go into the corporate sector, if you decide to go into the government sector, if you decide to go into real estate or have your own business, it’s going to be tough.

[00:02:45] Wendi: It’s just the journey Of re um, aligning your new identity, right? You’re becoming this whole new individual and it’s going to be hard. And this is why I love the [00:03:00] opportunity of networking. And I want to share with you three ways on how you can begin to network right away. Like I said, right after this episode.

[00:03:10] Wendi: in order for you to start to pay attention through the phases that you could go through and how networking is different for everyone. But the only thing that is the same across, I mean, any timeline or any personality or any gender or regardless of what industry or what, um, career you’re going to. The important thing here is just making a genuine connection.

[00:03:43] Wendi: Most importantly, how can you set yourself apart? How can you leave an impressionable, um, connection? How can you be the one that everyone remembers? And I want to share with you these tips because it’s going to [00:04:00] help you. Practice one, who you’re becoming, and two, it’s going to help you to build these personal connections with civilians, with other humans that you may not have anything in common other than just connecting.

[00:04:19] Wendi: And so I want to start off with saying that, yes, networking is a process. It’s going to require some work. And if you are dreading it or avoiding it, It’s because one, you have no idea what networking is all about, and I really just told you what it’s all about. It’s about connecting and interacting with other humans in order to exchange information or to develop professional and social contacts.

[00:04:50] Wendi: That’s really what it’s all about. And so if you’re someone that is maybe. I’m introvert or someone that genuinely [00:05:00] doesn’t like interacting with other humans or just doesn’t enjoy to do it. This episode is for you and I want to encourage you and I want to even challenge you to look at this as an opportunity to not only help you grow, but also help you get into this new identity that you are.

[00:05:22] Wendi: Really becoming you are becoming this woman that is going to be a civilian or a mom or a leader in corporate or maybe a businesswoman, an entrepreneur or a real estate agent. So, or investor, whatever it may be for you, financial advisor. Maybe you’re going into the finance world. You want to start to grow.

[00:05:48] Wendi: Not only build on this identity, but also get to meet other people that are in the same field, the same industry as you. Why? Because then they will connect you [00:06:00] with other people that meet your desires, that meet your needs, and you just never know. Doors open at times where you least expect it. And this is why I love the whole idea of networking.

[00:06:14] Wendi: But let’s be honest, I love it because I love meeting new people. I love meeting random people at the grocery store. I’m the one that’s literally in line having a real deep conversation with someone I’ve never met before. Why? That’s just what I enjoy to do. But I also understand that it’s not easy for everyone.

[00:06:33] Wendi: It’s not easy for everyone to just start talking about their lives. It’s not easy to even share certain things about oneself. And so because I understand it and I get it, I want to share with you some ways that you can begin now because it’s important. And so if You have no idea where to begin. I want you to start here.

[00:06:59] Wendi: I [00:07:00] want you to start with fellow military people with veterans, someone that is thinking about the transition, someone that is thinking about going into that field, someone that is maybe already in that field. So like, let’s just say you want to be a real estate agent. Go ahead and start networking with someone in the military community that’s already doing it.

[00:07:22] Wendi: There are so many. So many military active service duty members that are doing real estate as they are on active duty, which is a smart thing to do. I hate that I didn’t do that, but you can start connecting with them now and start asking them questions. Or if you’re still thinking about it and you’re like, I’m going to do this when I get out.

[00:07:44] Wendi: Or know of someone that’s already been out and want to get their experience on what that looks like full time. Go ahead and do that. But starting with fellow veterans helps you not only feel comfortable, but also understood. And that is very [00:08:00] important when you are connecting with other humans. Why?

[00:08:02] Wendi: Because we want to feel safe. Our brain wants us to feel safe and comfortable in order for us to share. And if we don’t feel comfortable and we don’t feel safe and we don’t feel protected. We’re not going to do so. And if we don’t share the things that we’re truly wanting to ask, the things that are seriously, maybe even keeping us up at night, or, you know, we have this, um, construed picture of what that might look like, then this is an opportunity for you to ask those questions.

[00:08:30] Wendi: But again, you won’t ask those questions because you don’t feel comfortable. You don’t feel safe. You don’t feel as you are protected by, um, strangers or other human beings. And so I encourage you to start with fellow veterans. And when you do so, you want to be able to focus on one question. One question is all you need.

[00:08:54] Wendi: You don’t need to have a whole script of questions ready. You don’t need to do a [00:09:00] ton of research, just one question. And that question is very simple. How did you get into this role? How did you get into this industry? How did you get into real estate? It’s that easy. They will spill the tea. They will tell you everything.

[00:09:16] Wendi: Why? Because they’re passionate. If they don’t, then you may need to consider talking to somebody else because they may not be passionate about it. They may not know enough about it and they also may not feel comfortable. So to uncomfortable people, talking is never helpful. You want to find the person that’s going to give you what you’re looking for.

[00:09:34] Wendi: And so that is number one. And number two is in person events. And this is where it gets a little tricky because some of you, especially ladies have kids and you have so many things to do. I get it. We have a ton of things to do, but if you are serious about this new career, you’re serious about considering the education or the school, or [00:10:00] even just, you know, becoming a mom, start becoming or being a part of.

[00:10:05] Wendi: These events, you want to be in a space where you are meeting people with the same interest and similar backgrounds so that you can learn as much as you can before you get out, before you get into that one thing, real estate, entrepreneurship, going into the corporate sector, going into contracting, whatever it may be for you.

[00:10:29] Wendi: You want to be able to show up to these places. And be able to just genuinely show up as you and ask that one question. That’s all you need to ask. And here’s the thing for the most part, when you’re in your like initial phase, you want to just listen. An initial phase. This is what I mean about an initial phase.

[00:10:53] Wendi: Meaning you are still a year out from transitioning or you haven’t even considered the transition. You’re just exploring [00:11:00] new opportunities, maybe a side hustle, right? Real estate. Maybe it’s just an opportunity for you to get out of your comfort zone, meet new people, right? Maybe you’re single and you’re like, okay, how can I engage with other humans in a way where it’s genuine and I’m not wasting my time?

[00:11:16] Wendi: or I’m not overdoing something like drinking, right? Going to the bar may not be the thing that you want to do or going to the club or doing things that are going, going to take away from the needs and desires that you have. And so let’s just say you are out there initial phase and you’re like, okay, where, where do I begin?

[00:11:35] Wendi: I already talked to a fellow veteran. He or she invited me to this event. I’m going to go there, but. I don’t like meeting new people. I don’t like to interact with new people. What do I do? I want to encourage you again to just focus on that one question. And I want you to remember this. If you get anything out of this podcast, out of this episode is this.

[00:11:57] Wendi: People want to be heard, [00:12:00] meaning all you have to do is listen. If you literally show up with the only intention. Of simply listening to their story, to their journey, to what they have to offer. I promise you that you will leave an impactful experience for that individual. And by that, I mean, you listening, actively listening, not being on your phone, not getting distracted, not talking about other people within the event, simply listening, listening to their story, listening to what they have to offer.

[00:12:37] Wendi: They will remember that Wendy was there to listen and because they will remember you and you’re not focused on, you know, being needy and asking all these questions and, Oh my gosh, what are they going to think about me? And you’re out of your head about all these thoughts and judgments that you have about yourself.

[00:12:58] Wendi: And what am I doing here? What are they going to think of [00:13:00] me? If you’re not doing that and you simply go in with the intention of listening. and paying attention to what they have to offer, what they have to say, they will remember you. Why? Because you listened. They want to be heard. They want to be able to have some other human, not a robot, not their phone, nothing else.

[00:13:22] Wendi: Someone that they haven’t really met before. Someone genuine that is there for the sole purpose of listening. They will remember you and they will share. You as an individual is he, you know what, have you talked to Wendy, have you talked to this individual? Because I mean, she listened to me. She asked me questions based on what I told her.

[00:13:43] Wendi: She was great. And you know, this is what she wants to do. She also wants to pursue real estate. You should reach out to her. Now they’re connecting you with one of their connections. That is also in St. Mattress as you are. I would not go to a real estate event if I’m [00:14:00] interested in real estate. If I’m not interested in pursuing or even exploring the investment, why would I go there?

[00:14:06] Wendi: Why would I show up? I may have another intention, right? I may want to sell them on something, but that’s the thing. Networking events, in person events, it’s always focused on how can I show up and sell them or ask them my needs versus you showing up to just listen and hear them out and kind of understand their conversation, understand their story.

[00:14:30] Wendi: Of course, ask them questions based on their story, on their journey, but focus on them. If you do that from the very beginning, the initial phase, I promise you, it’s going to get easier. Why? Because the next phase is then you asking more questions. But here’s the thing. The third thing before I get into the other phase, I want you to also explore social media.

[00:14:55] Wendi: More specifically, LinkedIn, not Instagram, not TikTok, LinkedIn [00:15:00] professionals, regardless of what industry you’re going in. LinkedIn is the platform for you to connect with other professionals with the same interests. If you’re going to school, if you’re going into entrepreneurship, if you are going into real estate, if you’re going into corporate, if you’re going into government jobs, whatever it may be.

[00:15:19] Wendi: LinkedIn is the avenue. Now, I know if you’re going to be a stay at home mom, there may not be as many mom groups there, which I think you could find another social media platform like Facebook or Instagram to help you meet other moms there. But not to say that there isn’t one or it’s still not a useful platform because there are also a lot of women on there that are promoting.

[00:15:45] Wendi: Items for stay at home moms for, you know, how to transition into becoming a mom. And so again, you pick your platform. I encourage LinkedIn for those of you that, um, haven’t maybe even explored it, but [00:16:00] also I encourage LinkedIn because it helps you connect with other connections that you probably would have never encountered if it wasn’t for the connections, um, that they are connected with your, um, People that you’re connected with.

[00:16:14] Wendi: And so it allows you to see other people’s connections that you’re connected with. And so it’s very helpful because again, you’re meeting people from other countries, other States, other backgrounds with similar interests, which is amazing. And so when you want to begin to interact, to network with other people on social media, you want to use the similar.

[00:16:39] Wendi: Um, question, or you want to use a similar, um, kind of route of how you interact with humans with the same question. How did you get into this role? Hey, Wendy, I noticed that you’re a podcaster. How did you get into this role? I’m looking to start a podcast. Oh, now you’ve got my attention. Why? Because I want to help [00:17:00] every human being gets this, um, what do we call it?

[00:17:06] Wendi: This, um, dopamine hit. When we help someone, when we feel that we are needed and we have done something good, we get a dopamine hit. We want to help. Oh, of course. Yeah. Let me tell you and share with you everything I know. When can you get on a call? How can I, you know, or is this a good time to send you a message, um, for us to, to get together?

[00:17:27] Wendi: Or I can send you everything I know through this message. And honestly, I think that the more that you can communicate through messaging, direct message or email, the better you’re going to get comfortable. At not only doing that, um, more often, but also you’ll keep a record. You’ll keep, keep a receipt of the connections that you’ve built already on social media on LinkedIn, because when you go in person, the only way that you can do that is by exchanging numbers, exchanging emails, exchanging profiles [00:18:00] on whatever social media platform, but that’s the way to do it, right?

[00:18:04] Wendi: And so when you do this, From a LinkedIn platform already like LinkedIn, you are already connecting by DM and each other. And so, you know, okay, Wendy is the girl that’s a podcaster and I can connect with her, you know, to learn more, whatever it may be. Or, you know, Wendy is a real estate agent, you know, she’s in this area and she talked to me about this specific, you know, type of investment or investing process, whatever it may be.

[00:18:30] Wendi: And so again, when you are open to these three types. of networking, um, types that you can do either through fellow veterans, military people, anyone that shares similar interests in person events in social media, you are now able to start in a phase where you’re most comfortable. For me, I’m most comfortable with in person events.

[00:18:58] Wendi: I love meeting new people [00:19:00] in person. You may not, you may want to start off with just chatting with fellow veterans, either through texting, either through, you know, just in your unit or connecting from, you know, with another fellow veteran through a phone call. Or you may want to start off through social media, just setting up your profile on LinkedIn, reaching out to people that you’ve connected with, like, hey Wendy, I noticed that you are a project manager for X company.

[00:19:25] Wendi: Can you share with me a little bit of how you got to that role? I’m thinking about the transition. Just need a little bit of insight on what your take is. Oh, of course I’m happy to do so. And I chat away again. It’s something as simple as that. And it doesn’t have to be completely formal. It doesn’t have to be super complicated.

[00:19:45] Wendi: And that’s one thing that I’ve noticed a lot of us, especially women, especially ladies, We tend to overthink it. Like how do we start the initial conversation? What should I say? What should I do at an event? What should I come ready with my elevator elevator pitch? You [00:20:00] don’t need all of that, especially in the initial phase, the initial phase, all you’re doing is listening so that you can leave a lasting impact so that you can be introduced to other humans in a genuine way.

[00:20:13] Wendi: Oh, Hey, I met Wendy back at this real estate event three weeks ago. I would love for you to meet her. She’s amazing. Why am I amazing? Because I listened. That’s literally all you need to do. You don’t need to prepare. This is an initial way of you to network. You don’t need to prepare with anything other than listening and just having that one question ready.

[00:20:31] Wendi: How did you get into this role? How did you get into this industry? How did you get into this, whatever you fill in the blank, real estate, entrepreneurship, niche, whatever it may be. Um, the second phase is you actually now preparing. yourself to ask great questions. How do you do this? By coming in with confidence.

[00:20:53] Wendi: You want to ask questions that are going to lead not into yes or no, but into the how, [00:21:00] how they did it, how they got there, how they initiated a conversation with another individual, whatever it may be, how they got the certification, how they did it. Managed through, um, their own transition, how they were able to go through the interview process, whatever it may be.

[00:21:24] Wendi: That’s where you want to prepare by one, understanding that it’s not about you. It’s still about the other person. It’s not about you. It’s about the other person. Why does this help you? Because it takes that weight off of the expectation that you have to show up Knowing everything, knowing everything that you want to do outside of the military, knowing every single step and phase of what your journey looks like after the military.

[00:21:52] Wendi: No, you don’t need to be ready with all of that. All you need to be ready with is again, focusing on the other [00:22:00] individual or individuals and how you can continue to listen and ask great questions to help you also in the long run. Not too You know, share and overshare things that you are not even sure of, right?

[00:22:15] Wendi: Like, oh, I wanna go do this and I wanna go do that. And next thing you know, you’re talking about something so random and, and then it gets uncomfortable and you’re like, oh, I hate this, this sucks. Of course it does. You guys are all just trying to go in as if you know exactly what you’re gonna do, exactly what it’s going to take.

[00:22:33] Wendi: You don’t you want to learn from them? And if you’re not engaging people that already have gone through that or are in a, um, phase further than you, then you need to go and you engage with somebody else. That’s the point and the purpose of you interacting with other humans at a networking event, either in person or virtual, because it’s to help both parties.

[00:22:57] Wendi: But most importantly, for [00:23:00] you to leave a lasting impact for all. Experience with that other individual. And the way you do that is by connecting, by being genuine, by listening, by being there, not to, you know, ask for help and ask a thousand questions, but to focus on what they went through, what they have to offer and how you now can turn it and ask a question to help you at a later time.

[00:23:26] Wendi: The final phase is if you are Let’s say 90 days out and you’re like, okay, I really need to get out there and practice my elevator pitch or practice, you know, a couple of things that I am looking for in my next job and in an interview. So then you want to be intentional with showing up, In that manner, meaning you are going to [00:24:00] introduce yourself as the real estate agent.

[00:24:03] Wendi: Hello, my name is Wendy. I’m a real estate agent in the North Carolina area. And I’m happy to learn more about you. What do you do? What do you, why are you here type of thing, or what got you into your role? But you’re practicing, you’re using this to practice. So the more that you can say who you are becoming, the more that you can say what you’re pursuing, the easier it’s going to be to share that with people.

[00:24:33] Wendi: Why? Because it is, it’s just the nature of the beast. We want to practice what we’re aiming to become, right? Like, I just can’t continue to say, Oh yeah, I’m a captain in the United States army, an HR officer. No, We want to practice. Oh, I’m actually, um, my name is Wendy Ray and I am pursuing roles in project management in the [00:25:00] technology sector, whatever it may be for you.

[00:25:02] Wendi: My name is Wendy Ray and I’m a real estate agent in North Carolina. My name is Wendy Ray and I’m a podcaster. My name is Wendy Ray and I have a company that makes coffee. Whatever it may be, I’m just throwing out ideas here. I don’t want you guys thinking that I’m a real estate agent or that I, you know, I’m doing other things that I’m not.

[00:25:17] Wendi: So just want to make it really clear. These are just examples. But again, the more that you can go and network, the more practice you’re going to get. And it may not seem that it’s about you or that it’s not about you, but the truth is we want to make it about the other person. Why? Because it helps you take that weight off and expectation of I needed, you know, show up perfect.

[00:25:40] Wendi: And I need to show up knowing exactly what I want to do so that I can ask questions. No, you need to take a moment and really ask yourself, why do I want to attend? How is this going to help me? And you start with the words. With just listening. That’s what I encourage you to do. Just listen. [00:26:00] Listen as your initial phase, especially if you’re still thinking about the transition, especially if you’re not so sure about becoming that one, um, role, or going into the industry.

[00:26:09] Wendi: If you’re like, Oh my gosh, I don’t know if I’m going to be a real estate agent or not. It seems, you know, a little crazy right now. Go out there and explore it. Listen to what they have to say. And then when you move into the next phase, which is asking great questions and really getting into or leaning into curiosity, then yes, you want to prepare a little more, but I want you to start where you’re comfortable.

[00:26:33] Wendi: We are not the same. So, me telling you to go out there and start networking in an event that has over 100 people when you’re six months out of your transition is not the way to begin, especially if you’re not someone that finds. Um, interacting with others and engaging with others, easy. It’s not for everyone for, to start where I start.

[00:26:57] Wendi: I’m going to start with in person events, telling [00:27:00] everyone who I am, telling everyone what I’m passionate about and what I want to do, because that’s, that’s just who I am. But I wouldn’t recommend it to someone that’s an introvert or hates meeting new people. It’s okay. Listen, you don’t have to meet new people all the time.

[00:27:15] Wendi: All you have to do. Is be willing and open to the opportunities that are out there and you don’t even have to go to in person events. You can do this all through just a simple post on LinkedIn or even just conversating with other people’s posts on LinkedIn, asking questions there. If you see something that’s intriguing or interests you and they have a post and they want you to engage, engage.

[00:27:38] Wendi: Hey, Wendy, I noticed that you talked about the interview process. I have a question or I didn’t hear you talk about this. Ask the question, they will get back to you or send them a direct message. If you’re like, I don’t want people looking or thinking that I need help, send them a direct message. They will respond.

[00:27:55] Wendi: Again, people want to help. We get that dopamine hit. We get that [00:28:00] pleasure of, Oh, we did something great today. Trust me. They want to get to know you.

[00:28:06] Wendi: They may share everything about themselves first, but they still want to get to know you. It’s curiosity. We all have it. All right, ladies, I hope that this was helpful.

[00:28:14] Wendi: And please let me know if this resonated with you. Leave me a review. Tell me what you’re learning. Tell me what you like. Tell me what you want me to share more of. And I’m happy to do so. And listen, if you’re someone that’s, you know, stuck in your military transition or just in your Send me a direct message on LinkedIn and I’m happy to help you.

[00:28:34] Wendi: And if you don’t have social media, send me an email at hello at wendyrae. com. All right. Have a great rest of your day. Bye.

[00:28:42] Wendi: Hey lady, if this podcast helped you, challenged you or inspired you in some way, please leave me a written review for the show on Apple Podcasts and share it with another military sister. Helping you integrate balance, prioritization and growth in your relationship with God is my ultimate calling. I’m so blessed that you [00:29:00] are here and please join us in the faith led military women community on Facebook at bit.

[00:29:05] Wendi: ly forward slash beyond the military GRP. Again, it is. Bitly beyond the military GRP. All right. Talk to you soon. Bye