The Art of Networking
Yes, there is an actual Art to networking… and like many other “arts”, this one comes natural to some people, but is a struggle for others. Innate talent vs. learned skill I guess you can say! But whichever category you fall into, networking is a MUST for those pursuing a career in corporate aviation. The competition is stiff out there- so many talented people that are drawn to this profession for all the wonderful things about it! So how do you compete with masses? Besides the obvious things like education, training, and skill building, you need to CONNECT with others in the industry. You need to reach out, get out of your comfort zone and pursue the opportunities that are out there.
Here are some tips I hope can help!
First, I am not saying you should “stalk” people or corporations. Don’t Facebook them or contact them on a daily basis.. Then you just look crazy and NO ONE wants to hire CRAZY! Your pursuit should be assertive but not aggressive.
Second, Start to build a trusted group of people in your industry that you can count on for good advice. You may not get job opportunities through them but the advice and guidance you can get is just as valuable. In reference to Corporate aviation, these people include pilots, flight attendants, customer service agents at FBOs, dispatchers, Training facilities like FSI or FACTS, and even line service personnel.
Third, the use of recruiters can be very helpful. There are a few good ones out there I believe I have mentioned before such as : in-flight crew connections, Aircare crew, and jet professionals. Again, even if they don’t have immediate job openings, they are still willing to share advice, help you build a profile and make suggestions to prepare you for the job openings when they come! Also, if you connect with a specific recruiter on a professional/ friendly level, they are more likely to keep you in mind for a position than if you simply sent your resume to them without any personal connection. Stay in contact with them. Even send holiday greetings!
Fourth, professional sites like LinkedIn are jems for networking! Its always best to connect as a second party to someone whom you have someone in common with rather than emailing complete strangers ( not that you cant do this from time to time as well). But if you have someone in common they are more likely to respond.
And if you personally know someone that you have in common, all the better! Don’t be afraid of people! Just reach out on a professional and friendly level. They will either respond or ignore you, but at least you gave it a shot!
Also, even if a job is not posted from a specific company, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Maybe one just opened or they are not going to post it publically! One time I sent a direst message to an HR person of a company I wanted to work for! He responded telling me exactly who to contact to inquire further, and sure enough they were hiring contract FAs and I got the gig! You just never know so GO FOR IT! Once you do make that connection, don’t let it be a one time thing. Follow up down the road, keep in touch, and build a repore/relationship with them so you are always in the back of their mind.
Fifth, Always be open to every opportunity that may possibly be a stepping-stone for you, gained experience, and a chance to meet people. Along with this, Be cautious but not guarded. For example, if you really want to just get that first trip under your belt, don’t turn down an offer because you think it doesn’t pay enough or it isn’t on the type of aircraft you think you want to fly on. What you should turn down is a trip that is not with a reputable company or any situation that seems odd to you. Check in with someone you trust and then make a sound decision. Sometimes people just want to get a trip so bad that they take ANYTHING that comes there way.. which could end up being a disaster.. On the other hand, I have seen people loose out on a chance to gain experience because they were too picky or too timid..
Sixth, socialize! Go to events, conferences, and any corporate aviation related group setting! Go to dinner with your crew and communicate! This is a social industry so be a part of it.
Lastly, don’t ever burn bridges ( In any profession), but in relation to corporate aviation specifically: it can be s SMALL world. East coast to West coast, we all seem to know, or know of each other… Be helpful to others when you can, and don’t JUST have a personal agenda.. be a team player.. That is what a “CREW” is all about!
Remember that what comes around goes around and if someone helps you get a job, help them back when the time comes. Because often it does in one way or another.
I believe the real key to networking is the circle. We all help each other and it keeps going around… what a concept huh?!
Cobblestones and Heels