The Networkers OODA Loop & Arming your Contacts

Anyone who is in the military knows the value of networking. Dan Dukes takes the importance of networking to the next level by discussing how best to arm your contacts so that they can remember you long after you have departed.

Transitioning service members are likely familiar with the need to network for job after their time in the military.  It’s crucial to understand, however, that the large majority of people in a network simply do not have a job to offer.  This may be due to their company not currently hiring or not hiring a role of interest, they are not a hiring manager or don’t have any hiring influence, or they don’t enjoy working for their company and wouldn’t recommend any jobs there.  What is important to focus on are those network contacts willing to be the job seeker’s advocate despite not having a direct lead to an opportunity.  They want to help the job seeker and it’s for the job seeker to be clear how they can help.

These types of advocates are the key to job search networking because they are the bridge to connect you with another contact who does have an opportunity lead.  Advocate contacts need to understand, however, where the job seeker is coming from and where the job seeker wants to go. Answers to questions such as, “What are looking for?” and “What companies are you interested in?” are necessary to understand for an advocate to work on the job seeker’s behalf.  Answers to these questions won’t be found on a resume. A networking brief provides those answers, arming an advocate and jump-starting the process of getting network contacts proactively involved in the job seeker’s search.    

The Networking Brief

A networking brief, also called a career handbill, is a simple, easy-to-read one-page document summarizing the job seeker’s background and interests in order to focus his or her network on ways to further the job seeker’s career.  It is not a personal resume and is not intended to be a substitute or alternate for a resume.  A network brief highlights who you are, where you’ve been and where you want to go.  Accordingly, network briefs are generally organized into three sections: branding statement, career history, and future direction.

Branding Statements

Branding statements have been described as a promise of value, a professional catchphrase, and other things.  Regardless of description, the purpose of the branding statement section is to grab the attention of the reader and generate interest to learn more about the job seeker.  An effective networking brief leverages interest generated by a branding statement to persuade a network contact to take a proactive role in helping the job seeker.

Career History

While a networking brief is not a resume, the career history section effectively shows the same information but as a concise snapshot.  Due to space constraints, this section will likely show only brief highlights. The purpose of this section, unlike a resume, is to provide context and a point of reference for information contained in the next section, future direction.  

Future Direction

Future direction is the heart of the networking brief.  It shows the job seeker’s areas of interest in terms of industry sectors, work functions, and types of roles; it also includes a list of companies targeted by the job seeker which match those areas of interest.  The reason this section is important is that it clearly informs networking contacts what the job seeker is looking for and, knowing that, enables networking contacts to provide insights, advice or other thoughts to help with the job search.  Without a future direction section, a networking brief becomes an abbreviated resume, which leaves network contacts only guessing at what the job seeker wants and therefor unable to help.

Searching online for networking brief examples can yield mixed results.  Some examples do not include future direction elements.  While colorful and attractive, these types of examples do not help network contacts focus on job seeker needs.  They’re actually resumes.  

This simple but effective networking brief shows all of the above sections, but also includes desired contacts to expand her network.  Note that the top two bullets are oriented toward hiring managers while the bottom two in effect are looking for additional contacts leading to hiring managers.   Another example shows career history as focused on accomplishments only, which trades historical reference with more space for future direction elements.  The latter two examples keep network contacts focused on where the job seeker wants to go – instead of where the job seeker has been, which is the purpose a resume serves.  

Observe – Orient – Decide – Act

Job search networking can be compared to the Boyd Cycle, more commonly know as the OODA Loop, where job seekers observe the job market, orient on industry prospects and then take action in pursuit of target companies.  The networking brief is only a part of a larger process, but gathering information and building a supportive network are critical elements necessary for job search success.  When networking becomes frustrating, continue to persevere and ask for help.  The veteran network should not be underestimated, but it rests with the transitioning service member and veteran to provide a clear picture of job search goals in order to channel help and support.

Good hunting!

Dan Dukes is an experienced program manager of technical projects and products with expertise in guiding interdisciplinary teams and leveraging program controls to exceed target goals. He Develops team trust and confidence through insightful analysis, effective collaboration, and personal integrity. Dan Has full product life cycle management experience from concept to delivery, including design, engineering and sustainment and Possesses a unique blend of technical knowledge, market development analysis, and strategic business planning including P&L responsibilities.

Dan Can be contacted via Linkedin at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielwdukes/

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