A veteran's Perspective of Networks and Cliques

I feel the term "networking" is obscure for many military veterans. Yes, vets understand computers, and computer networking, and network; but I write this in honor of a military veteran’s perspective.  Coming together to form networks is unnatural for our most experienced veteran leaders.

First of all, many competent military professionals are taught to focus on teamwork at the expense of oneself in order to achieve overall mission success. That means selflessness, service, and commitment to the ideals of our Nation.

Defining Networking versus the Clique (Encarta Dictionary)

Networking-- A process or practice of building up or maintaining informal relationships, especially with people whose friendship could bring advantages such as job or business opportunities

The Clique-- A close group of friends or coworkers with similar interests and goals, whom outsiders regard as excluding them

For some of the ablest returning veterans have been trained, and they understood how to accomplish objectives and why it needs to happen in a way that one avoids using "cliques." This philosophy is opposite to civilian culture today that encourages networking.

The military teaches professionals and leaders to avoid forming and associating with “Cliques.”  It is clear why to the most committed military members, the "cliques" technically can seem like what we term as “networks." The reason, both can be small or larger groups of people working toward their own common interests. To many veterans, this is a counter culture to the mission-oriented organizational philosophy.

The veteran may view cliques (networks) as an impedance to fairness in accomplishing the goals of organizations, as it lacks personal integrity and personal commitment, and instead, introduces harmful elements such as quality degradation and group-think to the mix.

Some military professionals may view networking the way they see cliques for its risks based on their experience, and that can influence why many do not value the importance of joining networks.    

While it may be necessary to understand the verbiage of the way employers and recruiters speak in civil life, it would benefit military members more to know that they must learn (fast) that most things they will need are ‘selfish.' Things that serve our self-interests can come for aligning ourselves with others that think and believe in the same things that we feel and think ourselves.

Yes, as veterans, we must be cognizant that once we return home having a network can be very beneficial when striving to accomplish a personal mission.  Hence, while "cliques" for the military mission is dangerous; some "networks" are useful for personal well-being on the outside.