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10 Networking Tips: How To Use Your Alumni Network
Alumni networks can give you a leg up on the competition. Whether it’s connecting with alumni from your college or university or reaching out to those with similar career paths (i.e., ex-coworkers), an alumni network is a powerful resource. Here are ten tips for utilizing your alma mater’s network:
Join the alumni association.
To get the most out of your alumni association, you need to know what it is and why it exists. Alumni associations are groups of people who have worked at the same company or school and met over time. They often share a common interest in their alma mater or employer, so they can help each other find jobs and navigate careers after graduation.
If you’re looking for a job, joining an alumni association could be beneficial—especially if there’s one near where you live or work now! You can find out if there’s an organization in your area by asking around at events like company picnics or networking events hosted by companies themselves (this is especially helpful since many don’t advertise). If there isn’t one nearby yet but would still like some guidance on how best use their services once they become available then maybe think about starting one yourself!
Develop your plan
Developing a plan is an important step in networking. It will help you to be more organized, effective and successful.
- Plan the type of activities that you want to participate in (for example, attending an event).
- Decide what approach works best for you (e.g., face-to-face meetings vs online communication).
- Create a schedule for all your activities so that nothing falls through the cracks.
Be a resource person.
Be helpful. If you have any experience with a person, it’s helpful to share that information. If you know of an organization or event in your network, please let them know about it!
Listen actively and appropriately without interruption. This is an important part of being a good resource person because it shows that you’re interested in listening and helping others when they need help. The same goes if someone asks for suggestions or recommendations; don’t just blurt out what comes to mind first off the top of your head (no matter how good). Instead, think about what would work best for this person’s situation and provide some ideas instead—and then listen again after hearing their response .
Prepare your elevator pitch.
If you’re attending an event, it’s important to prepare your elevator pitch. This is the first thing that you should do prior to the event so that you can begin networking right away and no one will have time for small talk.
Your elevator pitch should be short and sweet, with one or two sentences of information about yourself and why someone should want to connect with you at this particular event.
Prepare your list of questions to ask.
When you’re networking, it’s important to know what you want out of the experience. It could be simple: You want to find a job in your field or expand your network with someone who knows someone who can help you get there. Or it could be more complex: You want to learn about how they got started and how they became successful at their current position.
The first step toward getting what you want is preparing your list of questions beforehand (and practicing!). This will make asking those questions come off as natural and easy for both parties involved—and help keep things flowing between them during conversation!
Be part of groups.
Depending on the type of group and what your interests are, you may be able to help others with their networking efforts. You should make sure that it’s something that’s in line with your goals and interests, but also check out which groups would be most beneficial for you to join. There are tons of groups out there waiting for people like you!
Think about why these organizations exist—what are they trying to accomplish? Do they offer guidance or support? Are there events planned where members can network with each other outside of the office environment? If so, this could be a great way for you (and others) who might not otherwise know each other personally yet still benefit from learning more about each other’s professional skill sets by becoming part-time colleagues through these organizations’ various activities
Decide which events to participate in.
It’s important to choose events that are relevant to your industry and career path. For example, if you are interested in marketing and public relations, choose an event that aligns with your interests. If you want to network with other alumni who have similar skillsets or experience levels as yourself, then look for opportunities where these individuals will be present (such as conferences or workshops).
You can also use the events calendar on LinkedIn as a starting point when planning out which events would be best suited for networking purposes.
Connect with former alums.
- Be friendly and welcoming. When you meet up with your former alums, be sure to greet them warmly and ask about their lives. It’s also good to make sure that they know how much fun it was to work with them during the time at school or work. You can give advice on where everyone should be looking for jobs (or even just good places for lunch).
- Be friendly and helpful. If one of your alums has needed help with something related to their career path after graduation, offer your assistance as a resource for them! It’s important that people know that there are people out there who want nothing more than seeing us succeed in our careers after graduation—and if we need help along the way, then there will always be someone ready willing and able (as long as we’ve done enough research beforehand)
Stay connected with the key contacts
By staying connected with the key contacts from your alumni network, you can help them build their professional networks and reach out to other alums. You can also be an active member of the alumni association and serve as an ambassador for the university or company.
If there’s someone in your network who’s interested in starting his own business, consider inviting him to speak at an upcoming event sponsored by your alma mater. Or if he has advice on how best to run one of his own companies, let him know that he could share some insight with others in the industry.
Be a good connector for contacts.
As a connector, you need to be a good listener. Instead of asking questions and expecting answers, listen carefully for clues about the person’s career path or interests. Then offer your help in any way that makes sense for both parties:
- If the person is looking for an internship or job opportunity, give them some advice on how they can get started on their search.
- If there’s something specific that needs doing around your school (or somewhere else), let them know! You can also ask if there are any open positions available at their alma mater—this will increase the likelihood that someone will approach you with an offer once one becomes available.
Contact us if you would like assistance navigating your career or any other career related items for a customized approach to your needs.