Outreach is a mission essential task that must be a constant priority for all members of our team. What makes our program so special is how we are different – rather than sitting back and waiting for members of the military community to come to us during times of crisis – our team members seize the initiative through proactive outreach.
MFLCs are a “left of the bang” force. Our goal is to arm those we serve with the tactics, techniques, and procedures they need to remain mission focused, operationally capable and family ready. This can only be accomplished through outreach. To be effective we have to be present. Below you’ll find some outreach TTPs to help you in this effort.
1. Get out of your comfort zone and find contacts – get comfortable with being uncomfortable:
- Being good at outreach means being proactive and looking for opportunities to connect with individuals at events such as morning PT, homecomings, ice-cream socials, holiday parties, field day competitions and other unit and installation events and activities.
- The purpose of outreach is to build trust – do this by finding common discussion points and interacting with those we serve on a daily basis. You will be hard pressed to find a service member who is not eager to tell you about their job – ask! Make it habit to hit the pavement and circulate the unit area, engaging with Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines during their course of their workday and learning about their lives in and out of uniform.
- Find key leaders and ask for permission to speak to formations at the platoon and company, as well as other unit and installation gatherings. Command support and endorsement from leadership will help build trust with the junior members of the unit.
2. Avoid “comfort based decisions:”
- While at events, don’t stand with a group of MFLCs or staff and talk. That may be the most comfortable thing to do, but to be successful you need to take advantage of that time and conduct outreach.
- There may be times when your presence is all that is needed. Make the tough decision to be present early in the morning or late at night when the unit is conducting PT or conducting “field day” cleanup. When you are the only civilian still around, it will be noticed and it will build tremendous “trust equity.” It may be appropriate for you to be present and visible but not “do” anything. You don’t always need to be the center of attention. Know how to be a presence without being a nuisance.
- It’s easy to sit back and wait. When you do, you are no different than any of the other resources on base. Dare to be different – get out there and interact with the members of the military community and you will have the opportunity to impact their lives for the better.
3. First impressions matter:
- The military culture is insular – tribal in nature – wary of outsiders and suspicious of strangers. How do you overcome this? By becoming part of the tribe. Work hard to fit in – if you make the effort it will be noticed and you will reap the benefits.
- Do your research and prepare to make a good impression. Learn about the history of the unit or installation. Understand what recent events and experiences are shaping the lens through which they view the world. This applies to families as well.
- The military does not celebrate “individualism” in the way it is currently viewed in popular culture. Outward expressions of individuality with “interesting” wardrobe choices, hairstyles and other fashion statements will not be well received. If you want to be respected as a professional, act like one and dress like one.
Be confident in your abilities and remember that you don’t have to fight the outreach battle alone. Team members from across our program have spent years refining their outreach techniques and together we can work to overcome any challenge. Never be to0 proud to ask for help!
COMING SOON: Military Outreach Scenario-Based Training