Inigo Montoya, in the classic movie Princess Bride, is a man on a mission to find the six-fingered man who killed his father. There’s a lot veteran job seekers can learn from him about networking by the way he introduces himself.
Come on, you’ve said this line before, say it again: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
While tongue-in-cheek, Inigo Montoya’s guide to networking meme simplifies the mystery of networking, especially if you lean more to the introverted side.
In the military, social niceties are not necessary. You’re part of a highly trained team. Everyone is a cog in a (more or less) finely tuned machine. There’s no room for pleasant social networking; you show up, you get your work done. Not so in the civilian world.
Let’s break this down.
1. Polite greeting: Hello.
While this is something we do every day, it might seem a bit daunting to do in a more formal social networking environment, like a job fair, or an industry social mixer. But stick with the basics -- it’s authentic and simple.
2. Your name: I’m Inigo Montoya
This may seem obvious, but many veterans, eager to ask questions, jump right into a conversation without first introducing themselves. Take the time to offer a firm handshake while you are introducing yourself and give good eye contact.
3. Relevant personal connection or link: You killed my father
Ok. Ok. Your personal connection to people at networking events is not because they killed your father. But knowing how and why you are connected to people is often a good icebreaker and the beginning of a good conversation. Remember everyone is connected by six degrees of separation. Find common ground and utilize that to build connections with other people.
4. Manage expectations: Prepare to die.
Again, your expectations with people you network aren’t likely to involve violent Medieval revenge, but when we talk about networking expectations, these are usually along the lines of future follow-up commitments. This is why we exchange contact information with each other. If you promise to reply the next day, be sure to do so. This says a lot about your integrity and you never know where and from whom your next great opportunity will arise.
If you’re transitioning out of the military, practice your social networking skills as often as possible. Remember to ask questions, to draw your new friend into the conversation!
If you can't think of one, try asking if they happen to have six fingers on their right hand, or better yet, have some ice-breakers prepared in advance.
THE NEXT STEP: FIND THE RIGHT VETERAN JOB
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-- Sean Mclain Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @seanmclainbrown.