Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mentoring, Networking and other Connections

Since I have recently transitioned out of the Air Force, my social and professional network needs to transition also.  While I was on active duty, building a support network seemed pretty easy - when you are under fire (either literally or an avalanche of e-mails and taskers) you make friends fast.

Some of the closest buddies and bosses from your time in the service will stick with you always.  Last night, we celebrated the retirement of a friend with 3 other couples we had met during our assignment to Yokota - in 1993.  Today I had lunch with a gal I met while putting on a CGOC dinner in San Antonio in 1999.  At my wedding were two couples that my parents had met while my Dad was in the Navy - our families became close in the late 1960s and remain so.

But it's my professional network what needs transitioning to something less-AF Blue centric.  There are literally hundreds of organizations that can help you do that, some in person and some virtual.  There are two things I have learned in my short time as a civilian:

1.  Networking organizations have personalities, just like your friends and family do.  For me, it's not worth continuing involvement if it's not a good fit.
2.  You will find supportive groups in sometimes unlikely places.  If a group is sponsoring an event, that is free or affordable, give it a shot. 

Here are two recommendations that I have had great experiences with:

1.  Academy Women and their eMentor program:  Both are free and open to all women officers regardless of commissioning source.  They are widening their eMentor program to include cadets/midshipmen, veterans, SCNOs, and spouses, and are making connections with vet hiring programs.  They host an annual conference, the Officer Women Leadership Symposium which will be  6-7 Mar 15 with a one-day career workshop on 5 Mar 15.  Both will be in Arlington, VA.  Check out the web site to stay posted on their activities.

2.  Women in Aerospace:  WIA is dedicated to expanding women's opportunities for leadership and increasing their visibility in the aerospace community.  This includes space, aviation, UASs and many other topics.  This organization primary hosts events in the Washington, DC area, but they continue to expand.  I have never felt more welcome than I have attending WIA events, and the dues are very affordable :-)

What is your favorite or most useful networking tip or organization to belong to?  Post below!

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