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Hiring Veterans and Why Your Network Matters For Job Searching, Business Strategy with COO of Combined Arms

Published Nov 11, 2019 by Kelsey Seeker

On this edition of Small Biz Insider, Combined Arms COO Kevin Doffing explains what veterans can bring to your business, the importance of knowing your worth when networking and how to create Employee Resource Groups to enhance your company culture.

Doffing is the Chief Operating Officer of Combined Arms, a nonprofit that connects transitioning veterans with services, community and purpose. Kevin was previously with the Lone Star Veteran's Association, which merged with Combined Arms in 2019.

You can also listen to his interview on the Small Biz Insider podcast.

Small Biz Insider is a digital series from the Greater Houston Partnership, where we highlight the innovative business owners, entrepreneurs and leaders of the greater Houston area making a big impact in the small business community.

Here are 5 takeaways for small business owners from our conversation with Kevin Doffing: 

Houston is home to more than 300,000 veterans who offer unique strengths in the workplace.
Veterans are often task-oriented, have experience leading teams and have worked under extreme pressure. These experiences serve as training that’s difficult to replicate in a civilian setting. 
“A veteran with 3 to 6 years of military service is well-positioned to take on a new career, transitioning from one career to another, at the same time having a solid bedrock of discipline, timeliness, sense of purpose,” Doffing explained.

Your network is your net worth. 
Up to 80% of all jobs are found through interpersonal networks. When looking for a new job, it’s crucial to build connections. It’s tempting to post a job application online and leave it at that, but you need to go to the people you want either at job fairs or professional groups. Be open, be available and know what you bring to the table.

Your team is your number #1 untapped resource. 
Invite your team to buy into your vision early on in your business strategy. 
A great team will be able to identify the gaps and weaknesses in your plan. The more diverse your team, the stronger you’ll build your business. 

Build community with affinity groups or Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).
Affinity groups are built around socially or professionally identifiable traits and  experiences that create a space for connection and community. Look for niche identities that people use to identify themselves and, remember, it’s really about the people. If you want a veteran resource group, make sure veterans are at the helm. 

Develop a proof of concept before launching a program or event. 
A proof of concept validates that an idea will work. Show that there’s a market demand for what you are doing first, and then start to plan out the details. 
“When we were developing our affinity groups, we asked ‘what are the times, location, content that really appeals to this group that will drive consistent engagement?’” Doffing said. “Then we had an event to test this concept with as low of a threshold as possible in terms of time, cost and staff resources as we could. We then used that as a model moving forward with what worked.”

You can find our other Small Biz Insider videos, podcast episodes and small business resources here.

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