Combat to Corporate Blogs

How Disney World Took Lessons From The US Military

disney

The New York Times ran a detailed story on a new attraction at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL.  The new Disney Operational Command Center is everything that it sounds like.  A state-of-the-art, technology driven command center in a central, protected location that supervises everything in Disney World to ensure that theme parks guests, employee, and services run smoothly, effectively, and on time.  To a veteran, this news story about an Operations Center (OPCEN) seems like a “easy decision.”  An OPCEN?  There are probably several hundred military OPCEN’s operating globally, 24-7, and under combat conditions.  Why, when Walt Disney does it, this becomes a news story?

The Walt Disney Operational Command Center is news precisely because the adaptation of military concepts to civilian organizations is a vast and great unknown.  Today, Gulf War II veterans (primarily Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans) are less than 0.5% of the US population.  The US public knows very little of what the day-to-day military does; let alone how to adapt military skills and methods to their organizations.  The lack of public knowledge concerning the benefit military methods can and do bring to Disney and countless other organizations are a great advantage point for veterans in their career search and career advancement.

The essential point for a veteran is that they must weave the application of military skills into the organization’s culture and work processes.  The Walt Disney culture is all about teamwork, positive customer experience, authenticity of performers (workers) to their roles, safety, and efficiency in the face of growing crowds.  Knowing this, the Disney Operational Command Center was not seen as a top down command and control center.  Rather, it was a place to monitor ride line length, safe operating conditions, and to mitigate other potential effects of customer dissatisfaction.  The Disney OPCEN supported the company culture and existing work practices.  In this way, the weaving of a military process, the OPCEN, in support of Disney culture of customer satisfaction and customer experience was perfect.

nabyAs you look at potential employer’s and your career progression, understand the problems your company experiences, the culture of how your company operates, and how the military skill set will be a solution to the organization.

Here are three ideas how military skills add value to organizations:

  1. Leverage Your Military Experience to Your Company and Job. Veterans need to translate their military skills to their businesses and organizations in a fashion that supports the culture and work practices of their company.  First, sit down and describe one accomplishment that you performed in the military, the problem that it solved, and why it was successful.  Second, list the skills that you used to accomplish the military task successfully.  Third, list problems within the company that could be solved by using some or these skills.  For example, maybe you started a regular meeting of tribal elder’s or shopkeepers in your AO in Afghanistan to discuss problems and look for solutions.  These meetings produced military skills sets of coordination, negotiation, planning, and leadership.  Could you set up a series of meetings with your company’s customers to generate ideas and discussion on what your company could provide in the future?
  1. Start a Veteran’s Network in Your Organization. You do not have to have all the great ideas.  Get a group of veterans’ together, brainstorm, and plan how to implement military skills to solve your organization’s problems.  Military Veteran Employee Resource Groups (ERG’s) serve a variety of roles to help companies employ more veterans, keep veterans on as employees, serve as a resource base for deployed employees, and help veterans translate military skills into improving the company’s business.  No matter your organization’s size, a military veteran ERG is a great idea.

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  1. “A Desk Is a Dangerous Place from Which to View the World,” – John le Carre. In the military, inspections, field visits, and “walking the line” were an implicit responsibility for leaders at all levels.  In business, conducting field visits with customers, manufacturing locations, and the like can make a dramatic difference in your career, allow you to understand the business, and establish a special relationship with your customers.  If you do not know what to do, get out and look at the problem from your customer’s perspective.

 

Resources to Support an Effective Military to Civilian Transition:

  1. 5 Keys to a Smoother Military Transition – Great Advice to Succeed By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2rI3qKT
  2. After Service: 3 Routes to a Civilian Career – Solid Military to Civilian Transition Advice By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2q8QzAg
  3. Create a Military Transition Fund to Have a Successful Military to Civilian Transition – http://bit.ly/2qMqrhB
  4. USAA Employment Tools to Help Translate Military Skills to Civilian Jobs – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q2zsUF
  5. USAA INSIGHT: 3 Ways to Ease Your Shift from Military Service to Civilian Life From @USAA – http://bit.ly/2qMoz8x
  6. USAA Leaving the Military Guide – Advice & Support for a Smooth Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2rI53Iu
  7. USAA Military Separation Assessment Tool for Financial Planning – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q8R8tS
  8. USAA Military Separation Checklist Tool for Planning Your Military to Civilian Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – bit.ly/2q2RGp5
  9. USAA News – Member’s Easy Military Transition? He Credits Education and Planning – http://bit.ly/2qOdMJc

 

 

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Translating Military Skill Sets For Better Customer Service

Military Skills Make For Great Customer ServiceThe ferocious, barking drill sergeant that R. Lee Ermey so masterfully played in “Full Metal Jacket” standing across the counter helping pick out bananas is not what we have it mind when combining military skill sets and customer service.  Rather, military methods seek to improve employee engagement, discover new ways to do old tasks, ensure safety, and ensure that employees equally fulfill the goals and desires of customers and store owners.

The challenge for retail and customer facing positions is how do we engage teams, serve customers, and bring about a customer experience that makes the customers want to return.  These six military techniques help make this customer value a reality.

Military to Customer Service Technique #1 – Connect the Team to the Ultimate Mission.  In every organization, it is very, very easy for the junior members to lose sight and understanding of what the company is trying to achieve.  In some cases, there can be over ten levels of leadership (or more) from the CEO to the lowest level of worker.  In all these instances, a great business leader works hard every day to constantly and consistently connects the team’s activities, performance, and successes to the company’s mission and strategy.  Everyone works harder and works better when they know how their actions directly contribute to the company’s goals.  Be sure to identify the “why” behind even the most mundane tasks and activities – it helps everyone work harder when they understand.

Military to Customer Service Technique #2 – Great Training and Rehearsals Make a Successful Team.  Training and challenging rehearsals will make a truly successful holiday season.  In the military, individual Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen are all rigorously trained so that they know how to do their job, but also how fulfill the critical responsibilities of their comrades.  More importantly, military formations of large groups of different specialties rehearse day and night, so vital functions of resupply, vehicle repair and casualty evacuation could be accomplished together flawlessly.  The business lesson is that training and rehearsals that show how business can do things safer, more cost effective, and with high levels of customer satisfaction will make the business great.

cust serviceMilitary to Customer Service Technique #3 – The Importance of Coaching and Teaching.  Leaders think of themselves as responsible for setting strategy or making decisions, but they seldom think of themselves as coaches and teachers.  If you’ve ever been to a military marksmanship range, you’ve seen this leader coaching in action.  At a military range, the senior military personnel work the hardest coaching, teaching, and setting higher standards for junior personnel how to shoot correctly.  I remember at one of my last military drills before I retired helping coach a Private how to shoot correctly – there was literally over 20 years of experience between us, and I was the one dusty and dirty from crawling on the ground.  Every interaction between a leader and their team is a time to coach, teach, and train to higher standards of performance.

Military to Customer Service Technique #4 – The After Action Review.  The purpose of the After Action Review (AAR) is to have an organization discover how to maintain what they did well and how to discover ways to improve what did not go well.  The AAR is used after every major and minor training and operational activity at all levels.  Additionally, all leaders are trained how to conduct an AAR.  In the AAR, the unit allows every member to participate regardless of rank and the team discusses: (1) What happened, (2) What went well, (3) What did not go well, and (4) What is the plan to fix what did not go well.  The AAR is a universal, all encompassing team improvement process to identify areas that need to be improved and how to improve them.

Military to Customer Service Technique #5 – Acting Safely and Preventing Accidents is Part of Everyone’s Job.  When the US Army start their daily missions, whether it is a ground convoy or a shooting range, the day begins with a safety briefing, medical evacuation procedures, and a rehearsal of the day’s most dangerous activities.  Anyone, from the newest Private to the seasoned Sergeant, can call a safety halt if they fell there is a danger to anyone.  This adoption of safety as integral to everyone’s job is vital.  When everyone has a role in safety, then everyone is looking to create a safe environment – no one is sitting on the side lines.

1000w_q95bMilitary to Customer Service Technique #6 – Always Lead by Example at Every Level.  Leadership by Example is one of the central tenants of military leadership.  Leadership by example means that the leader sets a strong and undisputed personal example for every activity, no matter how small, that the organization does.  From dealing with an angry customer to restocking shelves, a leadership style that embraces leadership by example always sets the correct standard for the organization.  Additionally, this style must also embrace personal passion, humility, and courage to guide the organization.  Finally, leadership by example must set and enforce high levels of organizational performance.

Adapting these military techniques to customer service will make stores, employees, and the customer’s experience better for a service interaction that will make the customer want to return.  Remember to:

  1. Connect employees to the mission.
  2. Ensure effective training and rehearsals to meet standards.
  3. Teach and coach employees to higher performance levels.
  4. Hold After Action Review’s to identify problems & improve performance.
  5. Enforce safety and accident prevention as part of everyone’s job.
  6. Lead by example in all tasks, even the most mundane.

Military skills work for retail, customer facing, and customer service positions because they value customer experience, employees, and improving the customer experience as an activity that must be accomplished consistently and credibly.

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Secrets How Military Veterans Enable Their Employers to Succeed

 

TSecrets How Military Veterans Help Their Employers SucceedHIS CONTENT PROVIDED COURTESY OF USAA.  Military service members are taught how to create integrated operations plans with multiple contingencies to ensure critical strategies succeed, create and develop personnel to succeed in their careers, and coordinate the placement and use of critical resources to ensure a plan has the best chance of success.  This military training and military experience, with some modification, is “off-the-shelf” ready to be applied to the successful execution of business strategy.  Military veterans before having often overcome great personal struggles to establish their civilian career success.

Great companies are based upon a sustainable value proposition of creating and maintaining value for a variety of stakeholders.  The Business Qualities of Success are what business need to do in order to be successful among customers and in the marketplace.  Customers find the products or services the company produces to be satisfying to meet their needs, stockholders find the return that the company produces to be equal to the comparable risk – reward ratio of other similar ventures, and employees find the time spent at the workplace to be engaging, interesting, and rewarding.  When any one of these three elements fail, the company usually fails.  The central driver for success in business is the employee.  Employees create products, satisfy customer needs, meet financial obligations, and make the critical decisions to guide the company to success.  Therefore, finding and keeping the finest employees is the most crucial decision for a company.

The Business Qualities of Success

The Business Qualities of Success are the primary drivers for what makes a business, or any size or service or product, successful.  Business must complete successfully an amazing amount of centralized and simultaneous tasks to be perceived competitive in today’s marketplace.  Businesses must manage cash flow to ensure they have enough immediate money to pay their bills, pay employees sufficient benefit packages so they remain with the company, operate at the lowest cost and highest service level to meet the most demanding customer, and ensure all the company’s and their employee’s activities are both morally, ethically, legally, and socially sound.  This is a challenge to achieve, but the qualities below help businesses ensure they meet these demands.

caMO2Consistent Improvement – The final area is consistent improvement.  The modern marketplace, from a dry-cleaning store to operating a hot dog stand to a global corporation, is in a constant of flux.  Customers demand new products, customers want to pay less, governments consider new legal measures, and markets demand even better returns.  Central to the all the criteria in the Business Qualities of Success is the ability to get constantly and consistently better in these.  The process that businesses go through of almost evolutionary adaptation is critical and central to their success.

Execution – Execution is the successful delivery of the product or service to the customer that fulfills the need for which they customer purchased the good or service.  The company must execute literally thousands of tasks before a good or service reaches the customer from purchasing raw materials to transporting goods to conducting advertising.  However, all the events in executions must be viewed through the prism of customer satisfaction and how the good or service satisfied the need of the customer.  For example, if I do anything from developing marketing, and delivering a laundry detergent to customers that does not clean clothes or make them smell fresh, then I have ultimately failed because my execution failed to satisfy the reasons the customer purchased the product.

Financial Results – The achievement of above market financial returns is the reason that businesses operate.  This could be a child’s lemonade stand or a multi country, multi-billion-dollar conglomerate.  However, financial results are not only quarter to quarter Earnings per Share (EPS) returns.  Good fiscal management and results return an above market return to shareholders, but they also maintain a good credit rating for the company, timely payment to suppliers and vendors for materials and services, a relatively low debt level, and solid investment levels to ensure the future success of the company to meet its business objectives in a competitive environment.  At times, these can be contradictory, but they usually can be achieved.

1000w_q95ffffLeadership – Just as military forces need leaders, Business businesses need leaders that possess: high ethical quality, rigorous decision making skills, an analytical mind that can see the perspective of both the firm and the customer, an appreciation of how to attract and grow talented employees, a keen sense of financial returns possible, and how to ensure that the company meets all the legal, social, and ethical requirements of its operations.  Leaders that meet these criteria are in short supply in any business, but the leaders that possess these qualities nearly always emerge as the leaders in their companies and underlying divisions.  Leaders are the executors of business strategy and their development must be central to any successful business.

Service and Quality – Customers will buy new services and products to try them out and see if they work.  However, service and quality is what will make customers stay and attract even more customers.  Customer demand good service both in the purchase of a product, but also in the after-market support of the product.  What if the product breaks?  What if I have a question?  These thoughts and concerns run through consumers that are on their way to becoming customers.  The highlights of service and quality are primary factors of what makes the restaurant chain McDonalds so successful.  McDonald’s is legendary for their consistent service, quality of food preparation, and rigorous engineering of their food development, raw food ingredient purchasing, and in store customer service.  I can go from a McDonald’s in Key West, FL to Portland, ME to Seattle, WA to San Diego, CA and have the food taste the same with the same service quality.  Service and quality are central indicators to the success of a business.

carrierStrategy – Strategy for businesses means setting a path and establishing the conditions for success in a venture or ventures that will: (1) satisfy financial returns, (2) be difficult for the competition to emulate quickly, (3) be within the skill sets of the business to execute successfully, and (4) can satisfy the customer need for the good or service over a sustained time.  Apple has made this type of a strategy a success when Apple transformed itself from a computer company into a personal electronics company.  Today, Apple is the standard for personal electronic devices such as phones, MP3 players, and portable media devices.  A key element of a success strategy is also to know when to adapt, change, or abandon a strategy that is no longer working.

Military veterans can apply the Military Qualities of Success to support and reinforce the Business Qualities of Success.  It is not just enough to get a job; the military provides great skills that can lead to fantastic success in the civilian world.  While challenge is an inherent part of the transition, it is vital to remember that others have successfully transitioned and succeeded.

Career progression from a rewarding military career to an equally or more rewarding civilian career is a daunting, but far from impossible task that many before you have achieved.  The clear majority of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen were leaders in the military and it is vital to their progression that they become leaders in the civilian world.  A successful second career allows you to find and secure employment in a challenging, enjoyable position and then maximize all your precious military experience and training to become a leader in your new chosen field.

Resources to Support an Effective Military to Civilian Transition:

  1. 5 Keys to a Smoother Military Transition – Great Advice to Succeed By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2rI3qKT
  2. After Service: 3 Routes to a Civilian Career – Solid Military to Civilian Transition Advice By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2q8QzAg
  3. Create a Military Transition Fund to Have a Successful Military to Civilian Transition – http://bit.ly/2qMqrhB
  4. USAA Employment Tools to Help Translate Military Skills to Civilian Jobs – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q2zsUF
  5. USAA INSIGHT: 3 Ways to Ease Your Shift from Military Service to Civilian Life From @USAA – http://bit.ly/2qMoz8x
  6. USAA Leaving the Military Guide – Advice & Support for a Smooth Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2rI53Iu
  7. USAA Military Separation Assessment Tool for Financial Planning – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q8R8tS
  8. USAA Military Separation Checklist Tool for Planning Your Military to Civilian Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – bit.ly/2q2RGp5
  9. USAA News – Member’s Easy Military Transition? He Credits Education and Planning – http://bit.ly/2qOdMJc

 

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The Military Qualities of Success For Business

Mil Qual For BusinessTHIS CONTENT PROVIDED COURTESY OF USAA.

The central premise of translating Military Skills to Business is that a military training and experience provide a core foundation to excel in business and promote the overall financial well being of the corporation.  A secondary premise is military veterans and the employers of military veterans benefit when a military veteran is properly employed and motivated to utilize all their skills for the dual good of the employee’s career and the company’s business success.  The largest gap in this process is that military veterans and the employers of military veterans have not been shown a path or methodology how military veterans experience and training can best be employed to improve company results.  In its barest terms, military veterans have the skills and motivation to contribute more, then just need a pathway to best utilize those skills for the commercial success of a business.  The gap from success in the military to success in the business world is not as great as one might imagine.

Military veterans offer, as a baseline, critical, real world experience; critical decision-making skills; unsurpassed integrity; a strong leadership ethic; Success in execution; and employee coaching and development skills that make them a vital pool to the success of the business.  Additionally, military veterans, due to their core military experience and training, offer essential skills to lead the firm to greater business success.

The Military Qualities of Success

The Military Qualities of Success form the foundation for the successful execution of military operations.  A successful military operation is based upon the following qualities.  These skills are also critical for business to be successful.

caMO2Execution – Execution is the art and process of the successful completion of the military mission and key tasks.  Primarily, this is not the rote, stale execution of a laundry list of tasks that will lead to a successful military execution.  Good execution of a military plan to a successful conclusion requires the adherence to the plan and, more importantly, good “heads up” awareness and personal initiative to know when to depart from and adapt the plan to ensure the objectives of the original military plan are achieved.  Military members know to keep following a plan until the adherence to the plan will not achieve the expected outcomes.  At that point, training, initiative, and personal responsibility take over to adapt their actions to ensure a successful military outcome.

1000w_q95dddddIntelligence – Intelligence is the understanding and incorporation of all aspects of the battlefield environment from weather, terrain, cultural forces, language, the enemy force (s), the civilian population, etc. and how the numerous factors of the battlefield environment will act and react as friendly forces pursue their most likely course of action.  The successful incorporation of Intelligence into military operations not only describes the enemy and how they will act, but also serves as a prediction of their likely courses of action and their anticipated reactions as the friendly strategy is executed.  Good Intelligence is not all knowing.  Good Intelligence provides an accurate depiction of the enemy, how the factors of the battlefield environment such as the terrain and weather will affect the friendly plan, and the most likely actions the enemy will take or plan to take to achieve their outcome.

Planning and Preparation – Planning and Preparation is the art and process of preparing military forces to succeed in combat.  Military planning involves the military orders process that determines objectives, assigns responsibility, and assigns primary and secondary tasks to complete.  Preparation for combat operations involves the rigorous training of the military forces involved in both primary tasks, but also secondary tasks that may be required if a contingency plan will need to be executed.

8dbb6e22bde6dd23a486f6c0c3798347Team Leadership – In the military, a team accomplishes every objective or task of value.  Furthermore, the military possess few if any tools to give service members more money, a less dangerous assignment, or some needed time at home with loved ones.  For example, during the initial days of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, reconnaissance teams spent nearly 2 ½ times as long conducting observation on a planned parachute drop zone than their mission called for.  The team leader, rather than pulling off the objective, motivated his men with the importance of their mission and using personal example setting went on ½ water and rations to stretch their meager supplies so their mission would be a success.  This type of team leadership, while extraordinary, is in fact very common throughout all the US armed forces.  Teams, when motivated and well lead, accomplish amazing things.

Team Member Professional Development – Another leadership skill that the military does exceptionally well in the use of developing subordinate’s skill sets both in soft skills such as leadership and personal skills and in hard skill development such as advanced job training and additional skill qualifications.  The military views subordinate development almost as a chain process where by a lower ranking member is trained, educated, and coached to then assume a position of higher responsibility and so on throughout her career.  Subordinate development is critical because it is executed from one level to the next and to the next, so all members of the military get this development.

PLANETechnical Skills – Technical skills are vital because their mastery is what creates an effective combat fighter.  A Marine may have great planning and leadership experience, but unless she can fire her weapon accurately, operate multiple radio systems, operate counter Improvised Explosive Devise (C-IED) equipment, she may very possibly fail in the successful execution of her military mission.

 

Resources to Support an Effective Military to Civilian Transition:

  1. 5 Keys to a Smoother Military Transition – Great Advice to Succeed By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2rI3qKT
  2. After Service: 3 Routes to a Civilian Career – Solid Military to Civilian Transition Advice By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2q8QzAg
  3. Create a Military Transition Fund to Have a Successful Military to Civilian Transition – http://bit.ly/2qMqrhB
  4. USAA Employment Tools to Help Translate Military Skills to Civilian Jobs – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q2zsUF
  5. USAA INSIGHT: 3 Ways to Ease Your Shift from Military Service to Civilian Life From @USAA – http://bit.ly/2qMoz8x
  6. USAA Leaving the Military Guide – Advice & Support for a Smooth Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2rI53Iu
  7. USAA Military Separation Assessment Tool for Financial Planning – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q8R8tS
  8. USAA Military Separation Checklist Tool for Planning Your Military to Civilian Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – bit.ly/2q2RGp5
  9. USAA News – Member’s Easy Military Transition? He Credits Education and Planning – http://bit.ly/2qOdMJc
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10 Steps To Create a Career Network For Post-Military Job Seekers

This Content Courtesy of USAA.

Here is a simple, direct, and effective process for how to build a network to help you find a post-military career or find and start a new career.

  1. What do I Want to Do, Learn, Or Achieve Through Networking – Your Goal? Brainstorm what your purpose and goals are for networking.  Are you seeking employment, a closer connection with a hiring manager, or do you want to learn a new skill, such as sales?  Knowing what you want to achieve through networking is vital.

networking

  1. Write Your Mission Statement for Networking. Use the format of the military mission statement (Who, What, When, Where, and Why) to precisely outline your goals and what you want to achieve.  Here is a sample mission statement for networking.

Networking Mission Statement: As a military veteran transitioning into the civilian economy (WHO), I want to gain 3-4 job offers from Midwestern based manufacturing companies (GOAL).  To accomplish this, I will conduct research, direct mail, and phone contacts (WHAT) of the top 10 Fortune 100 manufacturing companies with plants based in MN, IA, KS, MO, NE, SD, and OK (WHERE) over the next 3 months (WHEN).  The creation of a personal network will help me understand available opportunities, company cultures; important skill sets, and positions me to have relationships in the company beyond HR and the hiring manager (WHY).

  1. Define Your Value to a Company & Career. Too often, veterans only consider their technical skills and do not leverage their full range of military skills for business.  Military veterans need to leverage their military skills for an employer in a format that the employer needs.  Networking contacts want to talk about what you can bring to a company.
  1. Conduct Research of Networking Contacts. Based on your target locations from your mission statement and goals, use Business Week, Fortune, The New York Times, Hoover’s, Company Websites, the Leadership Directories – Corporate, and other sources to identify business leaders, company, name, position and their postal addresses.  A military veteran should contact other mid-level leaders in an industry (industries) that they would like to work to learn more about the industry, what it takes to succeed, and to position them for employment.  A great technique is to look through the work biographies of key leaders to see if any of them are military veterans.  Vets nearly always help other vets.  Use your local library, both physical location and on line, they have lots of databases and people who can help.
  1. Create a Simple Excel Database of Your Contacts. As you conduct your research, build a database in Excel with the following fields to help you begin to build your own personal database.  This database that you build will be used in the next step to conduct a letter writing campaign to meet your networking goal.  You should capture the following: First Name, Last Name, Position, Department, Company Name, Street Address 1, Street Address 2, City, State, Zip Code, Phone Number, E-Mail, Date Mailed 1, Date Mailed 2, Date Called 1, Date Called 2, and Other Names to Contact.  You should plan on having 20-25 prospective contacts per company that you are interested in.  You should assume about a 20% response rate to your letters – so if you have 20 prospective networking contacts, you can reasonably expect ~4 people to contact you to network.

letter2

  1. Write Your Networking Letter. A simple, direct and clear networking letter to your prospective contacts works very well to create contacts as well as demonstrate your skills.  You should write your letter stating that you are interested to build connections that will help you understand the company, industry, and the business environment.  Do not directly ask for a job.  You can have two or three questions on how the contact started their career, other people to talk to, and what the growth areas are in the industry – these are invaluable for your search.  Make sure your contact information is included, the letter is free from grammar and spelling errors, and the letter is only one page.  When networking, letters are a wonderful resource to contact specific people in companies (but not only the HR department), because people receive very little “snail” mail anymore.  Use a personal direct mail campaign to help build a network.
  1. Mail Your Letters. Use the Mail Merge function in Microsoft Word to create professional looking labels, letters, and envelopes.  You can include 1-2 business cards with your letter as well.  Try to time the arrival of your letters to a Thursday or a Friday when an executive will have time to read them – Monday and Tuesday are very meeting & travel heavy for most people.
  1. Follow Up with a Phone Call. Wait 3-4 days after your letters arrive and call the networking prospect to schedule a call.  It is possible, but doubtful, that someone can take your call immediately.  Schedule 30 minutes to discuss your questions.  Confirm the date, time, time zone, phone number, and other contact information.  Use Microsoft Outlook or some other scheduling program that allows changes.  The follow up phone call to schedule a networking discussion time is vital to show your interest and build the relationship.
  1. Conduct the Networking Meeting. During the networking meeting, take time to explain your goals, ask how to learn about the industry, explain your military background, as well as your skill sets.  It is vital that you use these sessions to understand about the person, company, industry, and business challenges.  Do not oversell yourself.  Use this time to make sure the company, industry, and corporate culture will fit you.  At the conclusion, thank the person for their time, schedule another meeting time, and see if there are 2-3 others that you can talk to.  Enter these new prospective contacts and the results of your meeting in your Excel database.  In the follow up meetings, you can begin to explore job prospects and opportunities.

TRAINING2

  1. Plan for Success and Embrace Failure. In combat, we always planned as best we could for a successful mission, but also planned multiple contingencies and back up plans to account for enemy actions and other possible points of failure so that, no matter what happened, the mission would be successful.  When you transition, your networking and job application plan should have multiple back up plans and contingencies as you start your new career.  If you are not immediately successful, relax, step back, reassesses, learn, and move forward.  This happens to everyone and you need to expect a tough road ahead.  A resourceful candidate leverages failure to make them better for the next opportunity and plans multiple opportunities so they are successful in their quest for a new or a better job.

 

Resources to Support an Effective Military to Civilian Transition:

  1. 5 Keys to a Smoother Military Transition – Great Advice to Succeed By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2rI3qKT
  2. After Service: 3 Routes to a Civilian Career – Solid Military to Civilian Transition Advice By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2q8QzAg
  3. Create a Military Transition Fund to Have a Successful Military to Civilian Transition – http://bit.ly/2qMqrhB
  4. USAA Employment Tools to Help Translate Military Skills to Civilian Jobs – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q2zsUF
  5. USAA INSIGHT: 3 Ways to Ease Your Shift from Military Service to Civilian Life From @USAA – http://bit.ly/2qMoz8x
  6. USAA Leaving the Military Guide – Advice & Support for a Smooth Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2rI53Iu
  7. USAA Military Separation Assessment Tool for Financial Planning – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q8R8tS
  8. USAA Military Separation Checklist Tool for Planning Your Military to Civilian Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – bit.ly/2q2RGp5
  9. USAA News – Member’s Easy Military Transition? He Credits Education and Planning – http://bit.ly/2qOdMJc
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