By U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David Woodworth
ANG Professor at School of Advanced Air and Space Studies
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (2/13/13) - Chief Master Sgt. Carl Collins, Air National Guard (ANG) Advisor to the Commander, Barnes Center for Enlisted Education, enjoyed the business networking presentation he received as part of a Transition Assistance Program (TAP).
He liked it so much he invited presenter Stacia Robinson to give the presentation to 20 or 30 of his closest Guard and Reserve colleagues.
Collins, co-founder of the Guard and Reserve Network (GARNET), put together a program for students, staff, and faculty of Air University, featuring Robinson’s presentation. “Her ability to relate to military members and dispel some of the myths associated with networking make her presentation very effective.” Collins said.
Robinson, a Montgomery businesswoman, highlighted the reasons why networking is important, not just how to do it.
She started by helping attendees assign value to their time, and then tied good networking to long-term prosperity. But unlike other military networking classes that focus on what members can get out of the network, Robinson applies a “givers gain” principle, in which members benefit most by providing assistance to others first.
Col. Edward Vaughan, senior ANG Advisor at Air University and GARNET’s other co-founder, appreciated the message. Vaughan, a veteran of private sector business during his time as a drill-status Guard member, travels to military units to conduct workshops and seminars about applying entrepreneurial methods to professional and personal development.
Vaughan says, “Ms. Robinson is right on target. Some military members wait too long to begin career networking, causing them to dread the process. If they begin networking early, like today, and focus on delivering value to their colleagues, they’ll have plenty of options when they really need them. We call this ‘digging their well before they’re thirsty’.”
Robinson has a distinguished business record and was the first African-American woman elected to the serve on the Board of Directors of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. A military veteran herself, she is the Agency Principal of The BeneChoice Companies, a Benefits and Financial Choices Company and the District Manager of Colonial Life Insurance Company. She is a contributing author to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller, Masters of Networking.
Brig. General Jocelyn Seng, Mobilization Assistant to the Commander and President of Air University, was impressed with Robinson’s energy and unique approach. Gen. Seng offered closing comments to the group and encouraged all members of GARNET to get out and practice what they heard.
During one exercise, Robinson went around the room and asked each attendee to stand up and provide a 15-second personal summary, including their name, hometown, ideal work place, and favorite toy or game as a child. Not only did this break the ice and get the crowd more engaged, it provided points of common reference that will help GARNET members network among each other.
In thanking Robinson for her presentation, Collins connected this meeting to a previous GARNET event, “Stacia’s presentation and focus on articulating your personal goals succinctly, is a perfect follow up to January’s Elevator Pitch workshop. We’ve added many new tools to our career toolkits.”
Robinson is available to assist military organizations with business practices and networking. She can be reached through her LinkedIn profile and her website, StaciaRobinson.com
Vaughan and Collins founded GARNET last year to formalize career and professional networking among members of the Guard and Reserve from all military branches. Such members typically have hybrid careers consisting of a mix of civilian and military work experience.