Six Ways to Network with College Alumni by Sandra Long
College connections are always among the best. We spend four years there and most of us make meaningful relationships along the way. You can also extend those great vibes after college by reaching out to fellow alumni.
- Use Career Services: Consider using your college sponsored resources whether you are currently enrolled or an alum. Some colleges and universities provide support from Career Services for a year or longer after graduation. Many Career Services offices have specific procedures of how to engage with alumni. Follow your school’s process. You definitely want to meet with alums that have agreed to participate in an informational interview with students or other alums!
- Use Alumni Associations: If you have already graduated, check with your Alumni Association. The best step is to start attending alumni meetings in your area. You will build relationships very fast. Most schools have regional alumni associations with events. You may even decide to take a leadership role in the association. Some universities have a combined student and alumni association so look for those too.
- Use Your Own College Connections. Keeping in touch with your close college friends or dorm mates is a great idea. You can also connect with alumni from your fraternity, sorority, or sports team. Some of these may have their own alumni groups. Those personal or Greek bonds are especially important especially if you attended a larger school.
- Use LinkedIn: Check out the Groups in LinkedIn for your alma mater’s participation and decide which ones to join. Use LinkedIn to find and connect with alumni in your chosen career path. There are a few easy ways to do this. Try LinkedIn’s alumni tool first. Click on “network” and then “find alumni” to get there. You can select your current or desired geographic region, function, company and more filters to locate alumni of particular interest to you. Another way to pinpoint alumni of interest is to enter in keywords and your college name using LinkedIn’s Advanced Search.network
- What to Say: Ask for advice or information and find ways that you can be helpful in return. You shouldn’t approach an alum and ask for a job. Your first announcement shouldn’t be that you are a job seeker. Position yourself as an alum or student that is seeking advice or information about an industry, a company or a function. The best outcome is that you are able to have a live discussion over coffee or meet at a local event. The easiest way to make this connection is usually by using the LinkedInInMail feature and/or through the help from a mutual friend.
- Follow-up with the alum. You had a great meeting and learned a lot. The alum gave you great advice and even made a valuable introduction for you. The worst thing you can do is to forget to follow up. Send them a nice thank you note or LinkedIn InMail to let them know the outcome and your next steps. Keep the alumni relationship warm by keeping them in the loop.
Hopefully this relationship develops to the point where the alum actually vouches for you or refers you to a position. This should happen naturally as you get to know various alums. How do you network with alumni?