Once your spouse checks into their new unit, they get to go to work and interact with other adults while you’re on your own. Without a job, without the opportunity to make instant workplace friends, where do you start to build your network again?
There are opportunities everywhere to make new friends, some might be outside of your comfort zone. I’m currently navigating our 5th duty station. After our very first one was very lonely for me, I learned really fast how to make friends easily and, trust me, it makes this chaotic lifestyle so much easier to navigate.
One of the first steps I take is searching if there is a base and/or unit spouse's group on Facebook, or have my husband ask his leadership. This is the easiest way to get plugged in because these spouses know what you’re going through, are quick to take you into their tribe, and know all the local treasure spots.
Another way I find my place is looking into past organizations I’ve been involved with and see if they have locations where I am, or if there’s a similar organization. This is an easy introduction to make. I just go and introduce myself:
“Hi! I’m Zaneta, and I used to work in the marketing department for MCCS Iwakuni. I just wanted to introduce myself, and if there’s anything I can ever help with, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.”
If you are a church attendee, finding a home church is another helpful way to get plugged in. If there are too many choices that it’s overwhelming, call your home church and see if there are any they recommend in your new area. If you’re into fitness or want to get into fitness, there are lots of fitness groups, such as Stroller Warriors, that convene nationwide, and they are the most motivated and welcoming people I’ve ever met!
Wouldn’t it be nice to interact with people you are already virtually networking with?! CASY & MSCCN have community networking and career-related meetings all over the United States, including Alaska. To check out our upcoming events and network with our dedicated team, head over to our LinkedIn or Facebook pages to stay up to date on all upcoming events.
After you’ve found the organization(s) you want to attend meetups for, how do you actually network? First and foremost, you should always go with friendship as the priority, but you’ll most likely get asked “What do you do?” at these events and that could be the perfect in for some networking. This is a good opportunity to have your personal elevator pitch ready. Don’t be afraid to be bold and say you’re looking for opportunities and ask if they know of any. But first and foremost, be warm and friendly!
By making a personal impression first, then subtly sliding in your professional role, people will remember you first, then think of you when they hear of something that suits you. Remember that introduction I made earlier? I was able to volunteer at one of their events as a photographer, and that opened the door for me to become a staff writer for an online publication.
Whether you’re adventurous and excited about a new duty station, or you’re a little bummed about where the military sent you, there are always opportunities for you where you least expect it. Go out and meet new people and rebuild your tribe.
How have you made new connections in a new duty station? Comment below!
Written by: Zaneta Padilla, Marketing Content Coordinator