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Networking question

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I just complete my commercial certificate and looking to start my CFI in a couple of months. I’ve worked retail and never really networked on purpose. I’ve been reading a lot lately about the job market and everyone talks about networking. I’m wounding if you guys can offer some tips on how to network in the aviation community. Do you guys stop in at other schools and talk to other pilots there. How to you guys find people to network with? Any tips would be appreciated.

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I am no networking pro myself, but I think this is a good place to start. Also, I think that once you start teaching that will help also. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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Congratulations on your accomplishment! No better place than this (VR website) to make new friends in the helicopter world. RP rolleyes.gif

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The HAI Heli-expo is a fantastic place to network. Plenty of people there, especially at the job fair.

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Find out what local airports have helicopter operations and visit them, go to schools, go on road trips and visit companies that do work you are interested in and ask for advice. You probably won't get any job offers but you can collect some email addresses and lay some ground work for the future. Trade shows such as Heli-expo are a great place to network also.

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Let's see, here's what I do..


1 Say hey on VR

2 Visit your school and keep in touch with instructors and other pilots as they move around.

3. Never miss a Heli Expo

4. Join your local FAAST team and go to the free FAA events

5. Join HAI

6. Join PHPA or other similar local helo groups

7 Catch up on Facebook (good for keeping in touch with guys as they move internationally)

8. Oh yeah, always buy lunch/dinner/beer.

9. Check out the airshows/helicopter shows


Geez, do I need to go on?

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Goldy is right on target.


Of all my helicopter jobs, I only got one just by sending a resume and following up in person. The others were cause I knew someone who already worked there and was able to use them as a reference. It's important not to burn any connections you might have. It is such a small world in this industry. That is why it important to have a good attitude, be on time, work hard and set a good example with professional work ethics.


You have already started networking by coming here. As others get to know you, you will be able to develop these professional relationships and maybe even make a few good friends.

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This (VR) and Just Helicopters, are, imho, the two best resources in the industry to start your career and future. We are currently working on a video to talk about just that, how to begin your quest, because so many just jump in and end up in the wrong place (for a ton of reasons). One of the things we do, is to tell every single person that comes thru our doors, to visit the other local schools (because another one might fit them better).. we have always been about the students, and always will be. So, my first and best advice is to take a deep breath, step back, and gather information... and this is the best place for that.


On that note, my reason for posting was to agree with everybody, especially Goldy and JD, but also to add that you must be very careful about which school you choose. Some have built really bad reputations in the biz and just being there could hurt your options to start (when you already have very few options). Also, as JD said, most of your jobs will likely be attained thru connections, and if the school is producing weak pilots (and you better bet people in the industry will know about it), or very few, your contacts will be limited when you get to the crucial time to move on. (qualifying 'weak pilots': pilots with poor skills due to the fact that they aren't held to a higher standard, pilots with poor knowledge bases because they came from a school that doesn't use a syllabus or focus on the academics because THEY weren't trained properly, pilots that aren't focused or current because there is so little flying... i could go on and on but i hope you get the picture). An example of some of the above was Silver State, it looked like the perfect place to train, and at one time may have been, but there came a time when some Operators wouldn't hire anyone trained there. (just for the record, one of the companies that calls me for pilots has a few x SS pilots so don't go thinking i am slamming them.. some great CFIs came out of the program, i have hired two my self, and that makes my point even more pertinent; there were some great pilots in the program, but recruiters wouldn't even consider them because of where they were trained...).


Soooo, research, research and then research. Just like at High School and your whole life, hang out with the right folks, be nice to everybody that you can (some people just can't get along with others so avoid them if possible). oh, did i say to do your research?? :-)







Happy 4th everybody..

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As an additional note, as already stated, join Helicopter Association International (HAI). If I’m not mistaken, when you join, you’ll receive a HAI annual which has a substantial list of the Regular Operator Members. Not all operators belong to HAI but there’s a ton that do.


This list will contain information such as the operators primary sector (P135 charter, utility, training, EMS, etc), company location, type of aircraft being operated and most importantly, the name of the Chief Pilot. What I suggest, even though you’re not a CFI yet, start calling the flight schools which operate the machine your flying and start talking to Chief Pilots, Company Owners or even the CFI’s. The best conversation to have would sound something like; “someday I’d like to work for your operation, so, what do you look for when hiring a new CFI?” And “do you have any suggestions to tailor my training to fit your needs?” Afterwards, ask if it’s ok to stay in touch to see if any future openings are coming up. Hopefully, someday, you’ll have an opportunity to have a face-to-face which will place a face with a personal conversation rather then a face to a resume.


Some rules with conversations to abide by, or ignore…..

1. Be yourself.

2. Be polite but not a kiss-a**.

3. Be persistent but not a pain in the bootie.

4. Ask permission when to call, such as once a month or every-other.

5. Get the names of everyone you talk to and write them down. Ever the secretary who answers the phone.

6. Ask for email addresses and if it’s ok to stay in touch.

7. Avoid political, religious or conversations regarding other schools, focus on who you're talking to.

8. Remember, attitude is everything, be positive and inquisitive without being purposely naïve. The people you’ll be talking too aren’t dumb…..

9. If they say, don’t call, don’t call…

10. If you strike a relationship, never ignore that relationship.

11. If you gain employment, let those you’ve been in contact with know. Don’t just stop calling…


Even with today’s social networking technology, personal contact remains the most important way to network. NEVER forget this…..


Good luck,



Edited by Spike
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Lots of great ideas guys have posted. Every year around Heli Expo time, there is a flurry of posts asking if its worth going to. I could name names, but I have met guys walking around at booths that turn out to be the Chief Pilot, or Dir. of Safety for one of the largest operators in the world, owners or CEO's of some huge operators. You just don't know the guy standing next to you. If you have half a personality and strike up a conversation you would be amazed at who you can meet. Also a great way to renew old relationships. I know 8 or 10 of us from VR always get together and hang out for few hours and drink a few beers.


You should consider any show you attend as a huge networking opportunity. What you make of it is up to you.



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Really nice post Spike.. spot on!!


the last CFI i hired, still working for me now, sent me three resumes over a six month period and visited twice. i realize the visiting part may be hard to do, but it was nice to know he was still interested over time..


i have had some people that stop in to visit, and then send thank you cards or follow up notes with every person's name that they spoke with on the note (or even individual cards).. this means a lot to everybody, to know that the person that stopped in remembered them.. and when/or if they get a job, the team members remember this person as well... and this can be a serious issue... it's hard coming into a job where you are the low man/woman on the totem pole in competition for every student that comes thru the door.. if you have made a good lasting impression you'll fit in much easier and faster and the team will feel better about passing students on to you.




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Absolutely dp. To emphasize your point even more, it should be understood, these initial relationships can and will last throughout your career. More importantly, the relationships you build today may gain you employment in the future when you really need it. However, it should be also understood, a poor attitude will follow you just the same. Just like JD said, it’s a small industry. Simply put, your attitude will mold your reputation and it’s up to you to how your portrait is painted.


Affirm with that Goldy… In fact, I have a small cast of characters I meet at the CFI refresher every 2 years and we’ll sit afterwards at some bar catching up with our lives. Even today, I’ll meet someone for the first time at a HeliExpo and we’ll continue to hook up at future events…. As far as rubbing elbows, I once found myself at dinner with the VP of Turbomeca (France) with $100 bottles of wine being passed around……….. You never know who you’ll meet at a HeliExpo…..

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