How to Work a Networking Event

How to Work a Networking Event

By Jim Carman and Christine Rebhorn, Transition Center 

For current and former military members, military spouses and current or former federal employees, MOAA is hosting an evening networking forum specifically for you at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. (not the Dulles Airport Annex) on September 14, 2017.  This event features an impressive lineup of keynote speakers and a range of national companies offering a wide array of career opportunities and will also include seminars and panel discussions focused on all aspects of career building and entrepreneurship.  Additional details available at   

This is a great opportunity to connect with representatives of some of your target companies and meet with leaders from smaller and less well-known companies where employees often have greater access to senior people and more influence on the organization.  Consider the following points as you prepare for MOAA’s networking forum: 


  • Introduce yourself to employers with your 30-second commercial as you present your resume.  Highlight your employment goal, education, qualifications, relevant experience, and always mention the name of people you know who work for the company.   
  • Keep the 30 second commercial like a PowerPoint presentation -- too much information and it loses its meaning. 
  • While waiting your turn to speak to company representatives, give job candidates ahead of you the courtesy of a private conversation -- stay out of their space while they are introducing themselves and connecting with a potential employer.    
  • Dress for success.  This is your first contact with the company.  You can never overdress.  Remember to lose the military jewelry and the mirror-like inspection shoes.  The goal is to exude executive presence in civilian business attire.      
  • Mute your cell phone and the “I’m so important” Blue Tooth device -- what is more important than connecting with hiring managers and fellow job seekers?   
  • Talk to hiring managers about what you have learned in your research about their company and explain why you want to work there.  Be prepared to discuss your readiness for posted positions and always mention the position or requisition number gleaned from the company’s website.
  • Don't ignore companies you do not recognize -- engage the recruiter with the following questions: What types of positions are you looking to fill; are your needs immediate or longer term; and how would you describe the ideal candidate? 
  • Don’t be discouraged if the recruiter directs you to a website to complete an online application.  Many companies require all job applicants to complete this step to facilitate federal government reporting requirements.      
  • As you develop an understanding of the company’s needs and concerns, focus on how you can help the company make money or save money. 
  • MOAA has made it easy to navigate the evening by using the MOAA Career Transition App(available for iOS and Android devices). Research companies that will be attending prior to the event, review your schedule, network with your peers and locate companies within the venue by downloading the app prior to the event.


Don't expect to leave this MOAA event or any career fair with an offer.  The purpose is to make a connection with a company representative and begin the dialogue.  Always ask for contact information, write thank-you notes and remember to follow up with company representatives.   

For readers located outside of the mid-Atlantic area, MOAA’s next virtual career fair is on November 1 from 1300 to 1500 EST.  Details at