02 May 2013
Networking is a great, if underused, tool. You can network with anyone: people you meet at a convention, someone reading a magazine highly relevant to your industry, your parents’ friends. But there’s a source that’s currently being seriously overlooked, and that is your college network. Alumni are usually more than happy to talk with fellow alum and offer advice or tips for breaking into an industry. But how do you get in contact? Well, to start with, most colleges have a Career Development Office (CDO) that has an online Alumni Database that you can peruse. You may even be able to search by occupation, in addition to searching by city. However, as with any new networking connection, make sure you state how you found this person’s information and how you are connected. For example: Subject: XYZ College Alum seeking career advice Hi, Mr./Ms. ____, My name is X, and I found your contact information in the XYZ Alumnae Database. I was hoping you would have the time to connect via phone or email to talk about working in the “insert industry here.” The more specific you can be in your request the better, because it will help focus your conversation and show that you are interested in that area and are making your own efforts to educate yourself. Additionally, your college CDO might even have professional events scheduled that you could attend, such as industry seminars or career fairs. You can use these opportunities to network with people in your area of interest. Even after graduation, your CDO probably has valuable opportunities that you aren’t taking advantage of. Some colleges offer post-graduation webinars on the importance of refreshing your skills or peer coaching. Make sure you keep an eye out for these kinds of events! However, the absolute easiest way to network with fellow alums is through social media. Your college probably has an Alumni Group on LinkedIn, and you can use that forum to ask industry questions or find people to connect with. Alums post job opportunities or industry events to the LinkedIn group, and you can use those connections to build up your network. So, if you’re a recent graduate, don’t be so quick to leave college behind. If someone from your alma mater came to you for help, you’d be more likely to help them than you would a complete stranger, right? Make use of the ties between alumnae and don’t ignore this valuable resource!