Friday, February 21, 2014

Four Networking Tips for a Better Career

Four Networking Tips for a Better Career

Alex, Information Systems Division Finance – A U.S. Army veteran, Alex has had a 15-year career in corporate finance. He has used the power of networking to transition from the military, build connections, grow opportunities and set himself up for a successful future.
We’ve all heard the expression “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And while a great education can take you far in life, the people you meet along the way can help you go a lot further. As a veteran, I think this is true whether you’re transitioning out of active military duty or not. Making an effort to grow a network of colleagues helped make my transition easier and continues to serve me well in my career.
Building relationships was a necessity in the Army, and I met colleagues during my service that I still follow today. My time in the military motivated me to take on the challenge of business school, where my involvement led to great friendships, mentors and eventually employment. That’s because I used my network to transition to a new career at Walmart.
Here are some tips you can use to get the most out of networking:
1. Join groups with people of similar backgrounds. Coming from the military, it was easy for me to find people who had made the same transition to the civilian workforce that I did. No matter your background, joining alumni groups, industry organizations or even groups with interests like yours can open up a world of opportunity.
2. Use tools like LinkedIn to find out who you know within a company when you apply for a job. This can help you learn more about the company’s culture, operations and business strategy. I connected with a friend-of-a-family member who works at Walmart – he told me about other people to speak with there – and the advice he gave helped me prepare for my interview and land my job here.
3. Step out of your comfort zone. After you start a new job, reach out to people in the company you’d like to align with – those who you think you can learn from (and teach). I’ve met some fascinating people at Walmart whose experiences have taught me so much. Develop a plan for your first 90 days in the organization to ease your transition. I highly recommend the book The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins as a resource.
4. Make an effort. Joining groups and using LinkedIn won’t do any good without effort. Networking takes initiative and requires a time investment. At the end of a long day, the farthest thing from your mind might be attending that after work networking event. My advice? Go. A colleague invites you to dinner? Go. If you don’t, you could miss a networking opportunity that could change your life.
5. Bring something to the table. Be willing to share your own experiences and to provide others with insight into your area of the business. This will help build relationships with people and creates a “win-win” for everyone.
Networking isn’t easy, but when done right, it can help set you up for a lifetime of fulfillment and success. Luckily, my military background, and now Walmart, has given me opportunities to learn from people like I never imagined and led me to do what I love today.
What other tips do you have for networking? Tell me in the comment section below or tweet @walmartcareers with the hashtag #WMTjobs.