Everyone knows that your alma mater’s alumni network can help you find a job. But just how, exactly, does that work?
What if you’ve lost touch with the alumni you once knew, or they all ended up working in fields other than your own?
Is beginning the process while you’re still in school jumping the gun? Is it too late when you’ve been laid off?
As a Syracuse University Alumni, as well as by working for the University of Southern California’s online MSW degree program, I have first hand seen the value of this kind of network.
Participate In Alumni Association
Your first stop for alumni networking should be the local chapter of your alma mater’s alumni association or, if you are still a student, your school’s on-campus alumni center.
Regularly attending events or even volunteering at one is a great career move because it allows you to connect personally with a large number of alumni.
When talking to alumni, try to build connections through shared experiences, like living in the same building on campus, participating in the same club or even drinking at the same bar.
And when you meet someone whose professional interests align with yours, make sure to follow up!
Connect With Alumni On Social Networks
It may seem obvious these days that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn should be among your first stops in alumni networking. But really taking advantage of these resources takes work.
Just joining the alumni group or friending/following grads is not enough. Research potential contacts and reach out to those who share your interests in a concerted manner.
Introduce yourself, try to establish a rapport and if possible, set up a face-to-face meeting. Use social networking as one of many tools that help to leverage your alumni network.
Become A Mentor/Mentee
Everyone knows that finding the perfect mentor, unusual as that experience may be, can change your life — but many people underestimate the value of acting as a mentor.
Any productive mentor/mentee relationship adds value for both parties by creating a vital social and professional relationship.
It can also open doors by opening another person’s professional network to you.
And while your mentee might not have the experience you do, some young professionals have astounding networking skills even before they achieve great success in their careers.
If you wait until you desperately need a job to begin reaching out to alumni, you risk rubbing people the wrong way.
You are more likely to make initial connections by reaching out to others in a spirit of generosity than you are by reaching out to ask for favors.
But if you have some degree of recognition among alumni when your job search begins, you will find the network to be a valuable resource. And if you do begin leveraging your alumni network at the last minute, try to do so in a manner that is relaxed, friendly and genuine.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock