All service members and veterans should be on LinkedIn. Well, 98% of them. The only people who LinkedIn is not necessarily relevant to are those who are completely retired with no future professional ambitions or business obligations. If you are looking to land your first post-service gig, leave your current job for a better fit (or better compensation), start a business, grow a business, or develop your career in any way, you should get started on LinkedIn right away.
And you should start within your veteran community. If for some reason you are not yet on LinkedIn and stumbled upon this article by accident, don’t be overwhelmed — start with Wayne Breitbarth’s Power Formula for LinkedIn Success.
Perhaps you are a veteran or service member who is already on LinkedIn but without a developed network or a clue of where to start. Or you are an experienced user looking for more ways to build your network in the veteran community. No matter which stage of your professional career you are in (or how solid your LinkedIn game is), there are a myriad of professional resources available to you. This article will focus on a group of elite veteran advocates and influencers who you should connect with (or follow) right away. Here are a couple tips to consider first:
Don’t just click “connect.”
Seasoned LinkedIn pros know that if you really want to connect with someone, proper etiquette dictates that you send a personalized request. Why? First, LinkedIn influencers get a ton of connection requests every day, and it is disadvantageous to allow yourself to get lost in the fog. Taking a minute to add a personalized message shows you are serious and gives you an opportunity to concisely explain why your connection makes sense. Additionally, don’t let the ease-of-use inherent in LinkedIn distract you from the fact that you are using it to develop a network, which should be an interactive, personal, human endeavor.
In requesting a connection …
Do: use a personalized message. Name drop a mutual connection, but only if you know them well or have their permission.
Don’t: throw out a website/blog link unless you think it would be specifically pertinent to your connection. Don’t cut and paste — actually personalize. It doesn’t take long. Under no circumstances should you offer your paid services or attempt a sale at this juncture.
The list, in no particular order:
Host at Success Champions Podcast | Success Coach | Podcast Coach | Content Developer | International Speaker
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/donnieboivin/
Why you should follow Donnie: Donnie is a Marine Corps veteran, CEO, and the host of the Success Champion podcast, a top-200 business podcast. He is also a coach and international speaker. His company, Success Champion, is a social media content company that helps individuals and companies produce relevant and engaging content.
Motivational Speaker | Military to Civilian Transition Talent Development | Military Recruitment Program Consultant
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dylanraymond/
Why you should follow Dylan: Dylan is an Army veteran, currently well-known as “The Transition Expert.” He is a published author and motivational/keynote speaker who focuses on military to civilian career transition. He also is also a Senior Military Talent Recruiter for Shell Oil.
US Marine | Cookbook Author | Health & Wellness and Leadership Speaker | #elconductor of the Latino Community | OG Chef
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ronaldo-linares-7558424b/
Why you should follow Ronaldo: Ronaldo is a celebrity chef and cookbook author, Chief Creative Officer for the Setroc Group, Inc., and a national spokesperson at the American Heart Association. His book Chef Ronaldo’s Sabores de Cuba features nearly 100 Cuban recipes that meet the strict nutrition guidelines of the American Diabetes Association.
Combat Veteran serving and empowering Veteran and Business Communities | Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/curtislschmittjr/
Why you should follow Curtis: Curtis left his position as a VP for JPMorgan Chase to dedicate his career to the Wisconsin Veteran’s Chamber of Commerce and has since made a huge impact in the Wisconsin veteran community. He has received an avalanche of awards and recognitions for his advocacy work.
Military Spouse | Keynote Speaker | Hired via Social Media 2X | Teaches: Use Social Media to Create Career Security
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samplarkjr/
Why you should follow Sam: Sam is not only a versatile influencer, but he is also an active voice in the veteran advocate community, having experienced life as a veteran spouse. He often speaks about “career security,” a phrase he coined in juxtaposition with “job security.” He is an extremely insightful guy and is also very active on Facebook and Instagram.
Veteran Entrepreneur | JDog Junk Removal | Empowering our Veterans, Servicing our Community, Protecting our Environment
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andyweins/
Why you should follow Andy: Andy is an Army veteran and CEO/Co-Founder of Green Up Solutions, an environmental consulting company. He also owns the largest and most successful JDog Junk Removal & Hauling franchise out of over 200 nationwide. He is an inspiring motivational speaker and indomitable entrepreneur.
Founder + CEO | Mentor | Veteran
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/natalieoliverio/
Why you should follow Natalie: Natalie is a Navy veteran and the founder and CEO of Military Talent Partners, an organization that empowers veterans and military spouses throughout their careers. Military Talent Partners provides mentorship, coaching, and career discovery to help military talent realize their potential and define their professional goals.
USMC Veteran | Founder at The Dirt Therapy Project
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathanhagerman/
Why you should follow Jonathan: Jonathan is the founder of The Dirt Therapy Project, which introduces veterans to mountain biking as a form of stress relief/management. He is also a Supply Chain Manager for USAA.
Chief Marketing Officer, N2Growth
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danjevans/
Why you should follow Dan: Dan is a Marine Corps veteran, social marketing expert, and the Chief Marketing Officer at N2Growth. Prior to joining he served as Director of Social Business at USAA, where he led a team of consultants who advise lines of business on social media and marketing technology. Dan also founded the USAA Personal Brand Academy™, an employee advocacy group designed to help employees grow their influence online.
Empower Leaders to Execute on What Matters Most to Them | Author/Podcaster/Ambitious VET Coach & Trainer
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisdhoffmann/
Why you should follow Chris: Chris is a Marine Corps veteran and CEO and founder of VET Training & Coaching and the Ambitious VET Podcast. He is extremely active in the veteran advocate community on both LinkedIn and Facebook.
OIF Veteran | Serial Entrepreneur | Business Strategist | Transformation Architect | Helping Vets Achieve Greatness in Life 2.0!
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jay-jackson-coaching/
Why you should follow Jay: Jay is an Air Force veteran, published author, personal branding and career development coach, and military transition architect. His story is motivational to say the least; he is passionately dedicated to serving service members and their families, and his videos are spot on.
Tech Exec | Impact Entrepreneur | Forbes 30 Under 30
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dianarau/
Why you should follow Diana: A Forbes 30 under 30, Diana is the CEO and Co-Founder of Veterati, the nation’s #1 mentoring platform for the military. A testament to the power of the platform, Diana met her husband (and Veterati Co-Founder) Daniel when he reached out to her via LinkedIn. By that time, Diana had already launched three successful start-ups. Read about her story here.
CEO at Veterati
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielprau/
Why you should follow Daniel: Daniel is a Marine Corps veteran and CEO and Co-Founder of Veterati alongside his wife Diana. After leaving the military, he found civilian job searching to be confusing, chaotic, and messy, and he saw many of his friends facing the same challenge. This inspired Daniel and Diana to create Veterati.
Veterans Advocate | People Potentializer | Matchmaker | Money Coach | Speaker | Trainer | Connector | Entrepreneur
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/icastro/
Why you should follow Isaac: Isaac is a Marine Corps veteran, advocate, and coach. He helps veterans who are looking for job opportunities, need career direction, or have a desire to make a lasting impact.
2,222 Push-Ups a Day For Suicide Awareness
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andre-rush-1199255/
Why you should follow Andre: Andre is an amazing person. US Army veteran, celebrity chef, and bodybuilding powerhouse, Chef Rush cooks gourmet meals at the White House. He has also been featured on the Rachael Ray Show.
Military Transition Advisor | Operations Manager | Veteran
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/quincy-d-harper-sr-333a7010b/
Why you should follow Quincy: Quincy is an Air Force veteran and Military Transition Adviser with the USO’s Pathfinder program. He is a skilled relationship builder who helps military members and their spouses find a new normal post-service. Pathfinder also helps veterans navigate through the federal, state, and non-profit benefits and resources available to them. Pathfinder Scouts provide one-on-one support to service members and their families for up to one year before their transition to one year after separation.
Bonus: Yours Truly
Empowering Veterans and Transitioning Service Members | Professional Network Development Coach | Public Speaker | US Air Force Veteran | Founder, postmilitarypro.com
LinkedIn Profile Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/abraatz/
Let’s connect! Don’t forget the personalized connection request of course. Is there anyone who you think we should add to the list? Let us know in the comments section or on the Post-Military Professional Facebook page.