We all know it's important to network, and your alumni network can be a great asset when exploring career options and launching your job search. Since 80% of jobs are reportedly landed through networking, follow these tips to ensure that everyone's time is well spent.
Know What You're After Before You Reach Out
Focus your efforts by taking the time—in advance—to identify positions, industries, and companies you're interested in. This focus will help you identify whom to reach out to, what to ask, and how the alum might be able to help. It will also increase the likelihood of an alum responding, since they'll know exactly what you're looking for.
Ask For Information, Not A Job
It's easy for a fellow alum to say "yes" to an informational interview and help you understand their company, its positions, and its functions. However, it isn't so easy for them to say "yes" to helping you land the job you saw on their company website.
Often, your alumni contact will have no input in the hiring process—so asking them for something beyond their control could put them in an uncomfortable position. Instead, send a personalized message letting the alum know that you are interested in pursuing a career in their field. Tell them you'd love the opportunity to chat about their career path and experience. You'll not only receive great insights for your search process, but you may also gain a connection to other insiders outside your networking reach.
Ways To Connect With Alumni
Wondering how to make those initial connections? Take advantage of these resources:
- Your university's alumni network: Contact your on-campus career center or alumni office to find out about alumni who have offered to speak with students about their careers.
- Events: University career centers and alumni offices often sponsor events to bring alumni and current students together for networking. Contact these offices (or check their websites) to see when there may be one near you.
- Social media: Join alumni groups on LinkedIn and use the site to research alums in your industry to reach out to for informational interviews. Follow your alumni association on Twitter to receive tweets about events.
Remember, always be prepared and start early! And if you're looking for other ways to improve your networking, check out these 12 tips.