(That won’t make you feel cringy.)
I wrote the original blog article almost 2 years ago. Since then, I’ve picked up a few more tips; and knowing how uncomfortable self-marketing is, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to update and re-share this article.
One day, the uniform has to come off.
The uniform is our billboard, our advertisement, and our initial communication. When it comes off it can feel like we are stepping naked into the civilian world.
Think about it. When we walk into a room, the uniform speaks. The people in the room know our branch of service, name, rank (okay, Navy sorry…only the Marines know your rank…the rest of us are lost), and career field. We even know how to respond based on what is on that person’s uniform…and that is before we have even spoken a word!
When we step out into the civilian world, we walk out essentially muted. No signage announcing who we are, what we did, or where we are in the hierarchy. Now we have to figure out a different way to communicate and it is often one we don’t like…we have to talk about ourselves.
It makes for a tough transition.
When you spend 10, 20, or 30 years in this service before self, mission first environment, most of us never gain the skills needed to market ourselves. Any attempt feels like bragging, grandstanding, or showboating. Since we are not a fan of this, we tend to shy away from putting the spotlight on ourselves.
It’s just plain awkward.
It is also the one thing we need to learn if we are going to transition to a civilian job, do a career change, or dive into entrepreneurship. It is a critical part of networking. I mean, why network if you can’t sell yourself?
So, what can be done in preparation for this transition? Well, there are quite a few things. This list comes from the military transition book I co-authored, Warrior to Patriot Citizen (BAM, a little self-marketing for ya!), and a few other tips I picked up after the book was published.
Before we list the tips, I will tell you I had to reframe the idea of networking. I call it authentic networking. Here is my definition.