We all know (or at least have heard) that memorable song in the title of this piece, but aside from driving parents at a certain theme park crazy, it does present an amazing message; it is a small, small world. And the saying is true, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Networking is the key to opening new doors and moving forward in one’s career.
Despite the 800,000 licensed pilots in the U.S., the aviation community (especially the corporate side) is smaller than you might think. Walk into any crew lounge at an FBO and there is a good chance that someone lounging around knows someone you know, or may even have even heard of you. I know it seems like a stretch but it happens all the time. Just, the other night while on a layover, I was speaking to a gentleman at the hotel bar and turns out that he is a pilot for a Part 91 operation out of Orlando. Through our conversation, I learned that he knew my former employer and had heard about me. This example brings up a good point; always leave the best impression, because word and reputation travel fast. Toward the end of our conversation, he handed me his business card and said if I ever wanted to go to the Part 91-side of flying, he could set up an interview with the owner of the plane.
Networking can come in handy when you least expect it. After I finished my multiengine rating, I stayed in touch with the DPE who conducted my checkride. After a month or so of job searching, I received a call from her asking if I would be interested in an SIC job on a CE-550 for a startup Part 135 company that a colleague of hers was starting. Needless to say, that one phone call opened up a world of opportunity for me.
Organizations like Professional Pilots of Tomorrow, Latino Pilots Association, Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, and Women in Aviation International offer some amazing networking opportunities that can seriously come in handy (especially when you are trying to get an interview, or have an upcoming interview with your dream carrier). So strike up a conversation with others in the FBO, join pilot organizations, and stay in touch with those you meet at conventions and job fairs. You never know who will be the ticket to the next step in your career. Your dream job may be closer than you think.