Between scouring job boards, attending informational interviews and making professional contacts, one thing recent grads and job seekers often overlook is how helpful it can be to connect with their alumni network. It’s important to know how to maximize the limitless opportunities to connect and find advancement via this pool of people. Check out three best practices for networking with your fellow alums:
Build a relationship before you ask for any references or favors. To avoid rubbing people the wrong way, don’t wait until you’re in desperately in need of a job before reaching out to alumni. You’re more likely to make genuine, long-lasting connections by reaching out to others in a spirit of generosity than you are by reaching out to ask for favors.
Don’t overlook alumni groups. Your first stop for alumni networking should be the local chapter of your alma mater’s alumni club or association. Even if you don’t join the club, make sure to attend some of their events for one-on-one networking. It may be your only opportunity to shake hands with a potential employer or reference.
Connect through social networks. Just joining the alumni group or friending/following grads is not enough. Use social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and especially LinkedIn to help to build your network. Don’t be afraid to research potential contacts and reach out to those who share your interests in a professional manner.
Use your school’s Alumni Relations office to your advantage. Whether you are looking for your first job, changing careers or seeking contacts, your school’s Alumni Relations office is there to help. Remember, it’s their job to bridge the gap between graduation and post-grad connections. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them for help since they might just know just the right person for you contact or provide other free guidance.
Follow Jamie on Twitter @JayNHarrison.