Military Army Veteran Networks Her Way to a Corporate Job Through Career Education and Building Relationships

Tell us about yourself and your career.

My name is Janel Kim Mariani, and I’m a West Point grad and Army veteran with experience across a wide variety of functions and industries. For most of my career in industry, I was with Fortune 100 companies.

Why were you looking for a job?

I was looking for a job because I had lost my last one and needed to pay some bills.

How did you discover PAGCG?

I discovered the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Great Group through another phenomenal organization, the Greater Philadelphia Veterans Network (GPVN). Alex Archawski of GPNV partnered with Lynne Williams of PAGCG for a 6-week Veterans Career Success Group program to help veterans in career transition with career education.

How did PAGCG help you in your job search?

Let me count the ways PAGCG provided an organizational and philosophical structure for how to manage the job search. It offered professional development, keynotes in the recruiting and career transition industry, career transition support, and experts in ATS, LinkedIn, and more.

How did you find your job? How long did it take?

I networked my way into my role. I spent several weeks speaking with people and following different leads into the final conversation. The journey took about seven months.

What kept you motivated during the job search, especially during the downtimes?

Since PAGCG had several virtual sessions a day, I found myself with a like-minded group of people who were interested in learning about the ins and outs of LinkedIn. As people landed, we celebrated their success together.

What were the lessons that you learned during your job search?

A great lesson I learned is to target the company first, and then network your way in.

Do you have any networking tips or tricks that you can share?

Continue to modify your objectives and your elevator pitches until they roll off your tongue naturally.

What will you do in your new role?

My role is to find companies that are interested in hiring high performing military veterans.

What is one takeaway or nugget of wisdom that you would like to share?

I enjoyed the project management approach to a targeted job search presented by Paul Cecala.

Marketing Director Discovers Career Group to be a Wonderful Community That Is Motivational and Informative

Tell us about yourself and your career background. 

My name is Daria Duda, and I am a career marketer focused on entertainment and technology, specializing in product and content marketing.

Why were you looking for a job?

My company closed its office in King of Prussia, and I was part of the 80 or so folks laid off as a result. It was a huge change because I was consistently employed for 20 years, even surviving mergers, acquisitions, and company layoffs.

How did you discover PAGCG?

I discovered the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group (PAGCG) by happenstance and didn’t even know that an organization such as this existed. I heard about PAGCG from two people: a recruiter and a friend at my gym. When they both raved about how helpful the chapter meetings were, I knew I had to check it out.

How did PAGCG help you in your job search?

The chapter leaders helped me stay positive; they were motivational, and the sessions were informative, often highlighted by expert guest speakers. At first, I was skeptical because I had never joined a networking organization, and I didn’t know what to expect. What I discovered was a wonderful community filled with smart, hard-working people. We all had the same goal of finding the right next job that would maximize our specific skills. Many folks were employed but looking to transition to a different position or even different career, and it was inspiring to support others on their journey.

How did you find your job? How long did it take?

Well, it did take longer than I thought. I also learned that taking the first option didn’t mean it was the right one for me. While I had plenty of interviews, I quickly recognized it would best to be particular about choosing the right company for me. It wasn’t without effort – lots of networking through PAGCG, lots of meetups, and events at Venture Café, along with adjustments to my LinkedIn profile. Then simultaneously, two good options came forward. One was from a personal connection who introduced me to a business acquaintance. The second was a posting on LinkedIn, and having been taught all the tricks by the PAGCG folks, I contacted the recruiter on LinkedIn before applying. Having a personal connection with the recruiter added an authentic element to my job search and made the right impression of getting the interview and landing my job.

What kept you motivated during the job search, especially during the downtimes?

Hah – chocolate, and of course, the PAGCG chapter meetings! Seriously though, support from my friends and family. My husband was one of my biggest motivators and would encourage me to attend all the events possible – I was going out nearly every day to events all over the city!

What were the lessons that you learned during your job search?

There were many things, and PAGCG helped me tremendously. It is not just about networking, optimizing, and maintaining a LinkedIn profile, or doing practice interviewing – but with the building of personal connections. I look at my contacts now on LinkedIn, many of whom I met through the group and now follow their successes, and it’s humbling to be a part of it all, and know that we are all worked together to help each other be successful – in whatever way that meant to each of us. 

Do you have any networking tips or tricks that you can share?

I would say, strive to have two meaningful conversations during an event. As an introvert, networking was difficult and exhausting for me at first, but I found that meeting even just two people and having meaningful conversations truly matters. It’s best not to overthink what you should talk about with someone and instead relax. Don’t panic and enjoy the conversation, be engaged, and work on your listening skills, make eye contact. You never know who will keep you in mind when an opportunity arises. When you let yourself have a great conversation with someone, you end up finding some common topic to discuss or learn something new – it’s a great way to stay motivated.

What will you do in your new role?

I am the Director of Marketing for a start-up focused on safety for automation and robotics. The subject matter is all new for me, and it’s exciting and exhilarating to be a part of emerging technology.

What is one takeaway or nugget of wisdom that you would like to give us?

Personal connections are more important than online job applications. Even when my resume keywords matched a job description, it still wasn’t a guarantee that I would get a response at all, and, most of the time, I got no responses. Talk about a downer. Instead, reach out and add that human element to your job search and meet people, exchange ideas, and you’ll find inspiration and even advice in every conversation. 

Are you tagging on LinkedIn?

By using the @ symbol in front of a person’s, company’s, or organization’s name on LinkedIn, the name is hyperlinked in blue and it brings the post to their attention. 

There are times when the tagging may not work.

LinkedIn has been known to have some glitches here and there. Therefore, you might need to try a couple times to see if the name comes up. Don’t give up if it doesn’t work the first time as LinkedIn is sometimes finicky.

Sometimes people do not want to be tagged, so they untag themselves or they may work for a financial institution which prohibits them from being tagged. Certain financial services firms mandate according to regulatory compliance with FINRA and social media. A financial firm may have a mechanism that automatically untags their staff.

If you are tagged in a post, you can like the post, comment on the post, or share the post. 

If you reply to a comment below a post where you are tagged using the reply box, it will be nested and indented under that comment and may be less visible (once buried) than if you commented directly under the original post.  

Here you will find LinkedIn’s instructions on mentioning people in posts, which will allow anyone to navigate to that hyperlinked profile. Note that if you publish an article, mentioning is not available, so you would have to hyperlink their LinkedIn URL using the figure 8 hyperlink symbol.

If you find any of the articles I have written that are helpful and you want to share, please feel free to tag me in your post!


Lynne Williams is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group, a 501(c)3 nonprofit with over 6300 members and alumni providing career education and networking. Lynne also writes for,, and

What is Commercial Use Limit on LinkedIn?

If you have a free LinkedIn account, you may have received a warning that you were approaching your commercial use limit of 300 searches in a month. Your searching ability may actually come to an abrupt halt if you reached the maximum views by viewing too quickly.

This happens because you have viewed too many profiles on your mobile device or desktop or you looked at the profiles in the “People Also Viewed” section.

You do not get dinged for browsing for jobs on the jobs tab, for looking at your first level connections, or by searching by name in the search box at the top left of your profile. 

What LinkedIn hopes you will do is purchase a premium plan on 1) Sales Navigator,  2) Recruiter, or 3) Premier Business. Any of these upgrades will allow increasing the number of searches you are allowed. 

Upgrading to the Career and Premium Essentials plans have no bearing on increasing your commercial limits, as both of those are subject to the 300 searches also.

If, for example, you set up your account on the 16th of the month, your month would typically end on the 15th of the next month.

However, for the purposes of the reset for commercial use limit, you must wait until the 1st of the following month to reset your new count of 300.

New Jersey HR Business Partner Drives to Pennsylvania to Learn and Network

Tell us about yourself and your career.

My name is Joseph Turkowski and my background and undergraduate education focus were Math/Computer Science. After graduating, I began my career as an Actuary Trainee. From there, I moved to tech support, tech training, systems administration, project management, and then management. Next, I planned and executed a career transition to Human Resources. An HR opportunity became available, and I transitioned to an HR Manager role. I have been in HR for 10+ years now. An unusual and fairly unique career path!

Why were you looking for a job?
I was looking for a new opportunity closer to home.

How did you discover PAGCG?
My network connection, Ken Lang, introduced me to Lynne Williams and we met at a deli in New York City before she headed to LinkedIn to meet with a group of veterans. Lynne shared information about Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group (PAGCG) services and what it offers.

How did PAGCG help you in your job search?
PAGCG helped in many ways; here are just a few:
· Expanded my network in the Philadelphia market
· Fine-tuned and polished my resume
· Fine-tuned and updated my LinkedIn profile

How did you find your job? How long did it take?
I found my job posted on LinkedIn. My job search was approximately three months.

What kept you motivated during the job search, especially during the downtimes?
Networking and learning kept me motivated. I expanded my network groups outside of Central NJ and NYC. I took several leadership classes on LinkedIn, volunteered as a Career Advisor, and supported a disabled family member.

What were the lessons that you learned during your job search?
Never give up, always stay positive, take breaks, and pace your job search. Think of it as a marathon versus a sprint.

Do you have any networking tips or tricks that you can share?
Measure your success and adjust if you do not produce the results you desire. For example, if your goal is to meet three new people at the next networking event, seek out those you may be able to help. Send an introduction email to connect on LinkedIn and share your knowledge of what may help them. Measure your response rate and adjust as needed.

What will you do in your new role?
My new role is an HR Business Partner supporting our Engineering and Project Management teams. My focus is on building trusted relations across the employee life cycle from recruiting, onboarding, career growth, and development, to retirement.

What is one takeaway or nugget of wisdom that you would like to share?
Track and measure your job search success weekly. Adjust as needed. As a Bronze member, there are several job search trackers available.

Who are your LinkedIn Minions?

Who are your groupies, devotees, supporters, admirers, advocates, backers, enthusiasts, or zealots on LinkedIn? They are your #fangirls #fanboys or followers. Maybe they are thought of as your minions, as long as you are thinking of a minion in a positive way!

When you are a first level connection, you automatically become a follower.

But … some people may not be connected to you, but may just follow you. They might like what you have written in articles or enjoy other relevant content you post, whether it’s a video, SlideShare deck, image, photo, text (up to 1300 characters in a post) or someone else’s content you might share with your commentary. When they do follow you, you will receive a notification. 

Under “Your Dashboard” you will see a section called “Activity,” which has the actual number of your followers as well as “Manage Followers” (which is in blue) and hyperlinks you to another screen.

When you get to this screen, you can see people who follow you, indicated by a + Follow in blue. You might also see a ✔️ Following in gray, which means you are connected and follow each other. 

If you want to follow someone who authors articles, you can follow these instructions from LinkedIn to follow them from either their article or from their profile.

You can also visit someone’s profile to unfollow them too. In addition, you can be connected to someone yet unfollow them so their content does not appear in your feed. 

Sometimes when you post content, you get big surprises and get lots and lots of views, which is absolutely fantastic and that might create more followers!

You just never know what the LinkedIn algorithm will generate! 


Lynne Williams is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group, a 501(c)3 nonprofit with over 6300 members and alumni providing career education and networking. Lynne also writes for,, and

Three Unconventional Ways to Supercharge Your Professional Networking

Are you looking for additional ways to network with people, but are hampered due to the pandemic? Instead of merely sending cold “connect with me” requests through LinkedIn in, why not try out one of these other approaches?

Start a Podcast

If you have a computer, are curious by nature, and are willing to step out of your comfort zone, consider creating a podcast. It not only can help you connect with other professionals, but you create a product that becomes your business card that has a life of its own.

Pick an interest that you are passionate about and then reach out to people in your network and ask if they would be willing to be interviewed on your podcast. Over time, as you build up episodes, you can then take risks and invite people onto your podcast with whom you always wanted to speak. 

Not only are you able to have thoughtful conversations with people, but by recording the session, you’re able to share what you learn with others. Your ability to network will skyrocket as you’re not only reaching out to new people to speak with, but over time, you’ll be building an online repository of content that will make your website a destination place for other like-minded professionals. 

So how do you get started using a podcast? It’s not as complicated as you might think. The most challenging aspect is the planning, organizing, and doing the work. From a technical standpoint, there are many free tools available. The basics of what you need are:

● Recording equipment. To record, you’ll need a laptop and a microphone. (Yes, you can use your phone in a pinch, but for best sound quality, you might wish to pick up a USB microphone with a shock mount and pop filter.)

● You’ll need software such as Pamela (for Windows) or ecamm (for Mac) to record your interviews.

●     Free software such as Audacity is available for editing your raw audio file. And if you need to learn how to use the software, free YouTube videos are available to help. 

● And finally, you’ll need a place to host your final podcast files. Anchor offers a free service (but be sure to read their terms of service to make certain you’re comfortable with it, as they might run ads within your podcast or create a derivative of your work). Services like Buzzsprout and Podbean also offer limited free services and paid options for more functionality and server space. 

Want to learn more about how to start a podcast? Be sure to read Joanna Penn’s How to Podcast article for more tips and recommendations on services and equipment. 

Write a Book

Like creating a podcast, writing a book is another unconventional way to broaden your professional network while also allowing you to become a thought leader or influencer in your area of expertise. 

First, take an idea and then come up with five people you’d like to interview in your book. Reach out to those individuals, share your vision with them, and ask if they would be willing to be included in your book.

Need an example to help you get started?

Monika Kanokova wrote her book My Creative (Side) Business: The insightful guide to turning your side projects into a full-time creative business by reaching out and interviewing 12 female entrepreneurs and asking each of them a set of questions. Her interviews allowed her to connect with like-minded women from around the world, amplify their stories, and then offer the book to up-and-coming freelancers who looked for a place to start.

The options available to you are endless. You could choose to make a short ebook or a print version, offer the book in digital formats that will work on a variety of ebook readers, or even distribute the book for sale on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble. 

If you need help in creating an ebook, be sure to read my step-by-step How to Publish an eBook in 8 (Somewhat) Easy Steps. The technical aspect of creating a book is not the primary challenge. With today’s technology, anyone can easily create a book from their own computer, free software, and then distribute online.

The more significant challenge is coming up with an exciting topic, defining your project’s scope, and then executing. Remember, a book doesn’t need to be written in a day or a week. You can set your schedule as you see fit.

An excellent place to start is to brainstorm, select your idea, and then run with it. Writing 1,000 words a day for four days a week will net you 48,000 words in three months. That’s plenty to work with for a first non-fiction book.

After the draft is finished, you can use tools like Grammarly or ProWritingAid to edit the book (or share with friends to get their feedback), and if you’re not up for the challenge to format the text yourself, there are many freelancers out there to do the work for you at a minimal cost.

Once you have the book, share it with your professional networking groups. The point isn’t to become rich from the book, but to use your work as your business card. You can connect with other professionals during the research phase of your project and then share the books with those individuals to pass the book along to their networks (be sure to list your contact information in your book so that readers can reach out to you). 

Over time, with one ebook, you can distribute the file for free to tens of thousands of people. The possibilities indeed are endless if you are willing to step outside the parameters of traditional networking.

Volunteer and Teach 

What skills do you have? Choose one and then offer to reach out to a professional group and offer your services to the group. The Great Careers Group & BENG is one such organization that offers a plethora of events throughout each month.

Instead of looking for people to come to help you network or find a job, flip the dynamic, and ask yourself: “What do I have to offer others? How can I help?”

Professional networking is a two-way street in that we’re looking to make connections with people and give.

Think about how you can help people, write your idea down, and then reach out and volunteer to help. Do you have tech skills? Professional networking tips? Unconventional job searching techniques? If you stop to think about your skills, see what you’re passionate about, and then give back. The more you give back, the more your network will grow as you will become the person that people want to gravitate toward instead of showing up to people with your hand out.

If you want to take teaching to another level, why not record yourself on a platform such as Teachable, and then offer the recording to people? If signing up for a paid service is not an option, use your laptop to record your screen, and then upload the video to YouTube.

Take the YouTube link and share the video out on Twitter, LinkedIn, and any professional networks where you are a member.

Summing It Up

Yes, we are in the middle of a pandemic, and it’s more challenging than ever to meet up with people to network professionally. Stop sending the cold invites to people on LinkedIn. Successful networking takes effort, and the ideas suggested here are creative ones to challenge you in ways you might feel uncomfortable. That’s the point. Each of us has an opportunity to step up and use the skills/tools at our disposal to create something great and share that with others. Have fun, and if you have a question about one of the ideas in this article, reach out and contact me. 

Author Bio

Ron Vitale is an accomplished director of digital project management and has successfully overseen the launch of more than a dozen websites seeking employment opportunities.

His colleagues have come to know him as a diplomatic problem-solver with a proven ability to envision people’s web needs and then launch viable new web-based systems on time and under budget.