If you recently graduated or you’re still working towards a degree, connecting with your school’s alumni network can be very beneficial to you. Your school’s alumni resources can help keep you in touch with fellow alumni and your alma mater while providing great networking opportunities for the future. This can make it easier for you to make connections in your particular field, some which may even lead to a job!
It’s important to get a head start on connecting with your alumni network because you’ll stand out from the crowd and increase the potential of connecting with someone who can help you in the long run. Whether you’re applying for a job or just looking for alumni events to attend, follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll be able to use the power of the alumni network to your advantage in no time!
Make an account online
Making an account on your school’s alumni networking website is the by far the easiest way to receive updates about everything that’s happening in your alumni network. With a few clicks of your mouse, you’ll be able to create a profile and interact with your classmates and other graduates instantaneously. Amy Layman, the executive director of alumni relations at Villanova University, says that an alumni website is one of the best ways for collegiettes to stay in touch with their alma maters.
“A website allows us more space for detailed information and serves as the home base for news,” Layman says.
By creating an account online, you’ll be able to stay connected with the alumni office that oversees all alumni activity. Most online accounts allow graduates to sign up for email alerts, RSVP for events and access career resources that will help you in your job search. Some even have special offers or discounts, and who doesn’t love that? Each university varies, so contact your school’s office of alumni relations or visit the office in person to see how you can make the best of their online resources.
Follow alumni accounts on social media
Following alumni accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can keep you updated on everything from upcoming networking events to the score of the big rivalry basketball game.
Twitter is used to give grads information about events, spread campus news and share updates about alumni on a day-to-day basis. Facebook is used for the same purpose, but also allows the university to upload pictures from events and lets alumni interact on the Facebook wall.
“We can update alumni on events, breaking news and interesting opportunities more quickly via these platforms than email or other forms of communication,” Layman says. “Following the alumni association on social media provides alumni and students easy access to this info, such as event changes based on weather or last-minute ticket sales for basketball games.”
LinkedInis the best way to connect with fellow graduates when networking or searching for a job. LinkedIn groups for alumni offer discussion boards, job listings and searches to help find people you went to school with. These features can help you connect and interact with different members whose experiences may help you in the long run.
Many universities have subgroups for particular majors that can connect you directly to people in your field. Villanova has a very active Alumni and Student Mentoring subgroup, so explore LinkedIn and see if there are any groups within the alumni group you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
Join the alumni directory
Your school’s alumni directory is basically the White Pages of your school’s alumni network. It is a compilation of all of the school’s graduates’ profiles and their contact information online so it’s easily accessible and searchable. You can look up your old classmates, access discussion boards and send emails to other alumni as a way of networking.
“While LinkedIn is a great way to interact and make connections, some alumni will never use social media,” Layman says. An alumni directory provides access to many of these individuals who otherwise would not be reachable on social media.
An important part of interacting with the alumni directory is constantly updating your own information so other alumni can look you up, too. Most schools offer alumni their own email address, but you should at least include your name, location and field of interest. You never know who might come across your profile when looking to hire a recent grad, so the more detailed it is, the better!
Attend alumni events
Alumni events are a great place to interact and socialize with fellow graduates of your alma mater. These events can range from professional networking cocktail hours to pregame barbeques.
“From a career perspective, any event is a networking event,” Layman says. “Different activities will attract different alumni, from community service events to athletics events to official networking meetings to social meet-ups and more. Alumni from all walks of life—and in various career stages—attend university-sponsored events.”
Whether you want to reconnect with friends or get your name out into the professional world, attending these events can really help you in the long run. LinkedIn and online networking may be able to help you to an extent, but you never know what you’ll be able to take away from some one-on-one personal interaction!
“A student or young alumna may glean advice from someone just starting in her career or may meet someone in a hiring position or even a CEO,” Layman says. “When people gather around a common interest and share a common experience—in this case, their alma maters—professional connections occur between people who may have otherwise never met.”
Reach out to alumni
The best way to use the alumni network to your advantage is to personally connect with the alumni themselves. If you reach out in a professional manner, you’ll be able to network with alumni who have the experience and connections to potentially help you with your job search.
“From online resources to in-person connections at events, there so many ways for graduates to connect with each other, with university officials and with their alma maters,” Layman says.
Layman’s biggest advice? “Don't be shy,” she says. “When I meet individually with young people, especially students, they are often hesitant to reach out to older graduates. I often hear, ‘I don't want to bother them’ or ‘I sent them an email but haven't heard anything.’ Two words: follow up. Alumni are crazy busy—[they have] work, families, community life and more. They are inundated with email and other pulls on their time. But I hear time and time from alumni that they want to help our students.”
By reaching out personally, you’ll stand out from the rest of the students or recent grads. One email to a graduate of your school might land you an interview, or, better yet, a job!
There are so many different ways you can get involved with your school’s alumni network. By connecting with graduates, you’ll have an advantage in your career or job search. Don’t be too shy to reach out to alumni for connections. You both went to the same school, so there’s bound to be some school spirit you both have that may just help you out!