5 Networking Tips for Veteran Business Owners
In this post, we’ll identify tips that you should follow as a veteran business owner, so that you can extend your current network.
How Can You Network as a Veteran Business Owner?
1. Join National Business Organizations
If you’re interested in connecting with talented individuals, consider joining a national organization for veterans in business! Most of these organizations have chapters nationwide, giving you ample opportunities to meet fellow veterans.
For example, The NaVOBA (National Veteran-Owned Business Association) works specifically with veterans who own businesses. The membership-based association gives veteran business owners the ability to connect at networking and training events, in addition to other perks. Through your membership, you can meet other veteran business owners who share your passions!
2. Find a Mentor
A mentor is a valuable resource who can provide expertise, guidance, and encouragement as your business grows. With more experience and a higher skill set, a mentor can also expand your network by introducing you to industry leaders and other veteran entrepreneurs.
If you’re interested in finding a business mentor, consider joining an organization like the American Corporate Partners (ACP). They offer one-year mentorships designed to help bridge the gap between service and civilian life, which can benefit you as you navigate through business development and personal challenges.
3. Participate in Local Veteran Groups
Support organizations can build your network through mentorship programs, training, and networking events, and introduces you to other business owners in the community. Some local organizations that specialize in working with veterans are:
The Veteran Fast Launch Initiative: This initiative, which was founded by AICPA and SCORE, pairs CPA volunteers with veterans who need financial council. Volunteers offer free financial advice for veterans who want to start or grow their business. Other services include mentoring, training, and free software for veteran entrepreneurs.
Veteran Business Outreach Centers (VBOC): This program is operated by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to assist former military business owners. The organization provides resources which include training, counseling, and mentoring at the local level. Currently, 17 states have at least one chapter.
Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-Wise): This program helps female veterans who own a business or want to start one. The initiative includes an online training course, a 3-day event on entrepreneurship, and ongoing mentoring, training, and support. Women who are veterans, serve on active duty or have spouses serving in the military qualify for the program.
4. Attend Networking Events
Networking events can lead to stronger business relationships, as you’ll connect with new clients or form business partnerships.
In addition to general business networking events, you could pursue events that connect veterans in business. For instance, The Coalition for Veteran-Owned Businesses (CVOB) sponsors monthly networking events nationwide. Programs range from boot camps to conferences to symposiums.
5. Pursue Educational Opportunities
Training programs and business courses can enhance your leadership skills and overall business knowledge. Plus, by furthering your education, you can also meet other business owners and in-turn expand your network.
Start Focusing on Business Networking as a Veteran
Networking is a vital part of small business growth. Although it can be a challenge to make time to network, learning from others on a similar path has many benefits. As a veteran, you can collaborate with fellow veterans to learn from each other, and offer assistance if needed. Bonding with individuals who have similar experiences as a veteran who are also business owners can elevate your venture!
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.