Tips for Leveraging Your Alumni Network

By Kaitlin Hurtado on June 8, 2018

Regardless of where you are in your college career – it is never too early (or too late) to start building your alumni network in order to help you succeed in both your college education and career endeavors. There are plenty of ways to build your alumni network and plenty of ways that you can use your alumni network to help you get where you want to be.

If you’re hesitant to put effort into building your alumni network and thinking it’s enough to rely on your own skills and capabilities – an alumni network can help you in multiple ways. They can serve as mentors for you when it comes to college and careers – they have gone through the same classes with you and probably will have made the same career choices that you are expecting to make depending on how old they are. They can help guide you in the right direction if you are not sure on where to start – what clubs to join, what experience you can get as an undergrad, or even what professors were the best. And often, alumni can help you find a job by helping you connect with people they have worked with or have in their own network.

You never know the power of a network until you have one. If you’re on the fence about whether to start building an alumni network or whether or how you can make use of an alumni network, here is how you can leverage your alumni network.

hands holding phones on table

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Building a network

If you haven’t put effort into building your alumni network or think it needs some strengthening, there are plenty of ways to do so. A good starting point is heading to your campus career center or department office, which will have pamphlets and people that will detail different opportunities for you to connect with various alumni. Many departments and career centers have a mentorship program that connects current undergrads to alumni through different networking events like luncheons, panels, or simply introductions. Joining a mentorship program will help ease you into building an alumni network and connect you to alumni that are in a program because they actually want to help undergraduates.

You don’t necessarily have to be an underclassman to start building your alumni network, but if you join different organizations that relate to your career or major, you will be in constant contact with upperclassmen. The upperclassmen you socialize with now will eventually be alumni and having a personal connection with them will only help in the future when you seek them out for advice or career help.

Those “spam” emails you get from your campus career center or your department that detail different events on campus? Try giving them a little more attention next time you find them in your inbox. Sometimes your department or the career center will send messages advertising panels or workshops hosted by alumni. Not only will you get to hear whatever the workshop or panel promises to cover, you will also have the opportunity to meet the alumni before or after the event to make the event a networking opportunity.

Stay connected with your alumni network

You don’t want to meet your alumni at different events on campus (or elsewhere) and expect them to remember you or be willing to help a near complete stranger when you come to them for advice later on. To avoid this, you will want to stay connected with your alumni network so that when you do come to them later on for help, they will be able to recognize you and be more willing to help someone they know.

An obvious choice for staying connected professionally is to add alumni on LinkedIn. Doing so will allow them to be up-to-date with your latest career ventures and you to be up-to-date with them as well. If they have public Facebook or Twitter profiles that they use somewhat professionally, you can always use more than one social media platform to connect with your alumni network.

More importantly, do not be a ghost follower. Try to interact with your alumni network every so often. For example, if you have someone on LinkedIn, you will be seeing their latest career moves. Instead of scrolling past notifications of the latest job position or a work anniversary, send them a congratulations instead of scrolling past the notifications.

Always be appreciative and never beg

Never outright ask for a job position. While you may be full of envy at certain accomplishments of some alumni in your network, it’s not right to expect part (or all) of your alumni network to pave a perfect path for you to get where you want to be in your career. Instead, try approaching your alumni network with the mindset that can help you, but are definitely not obligated to help you out.

There are multiple conversation starters that you can use when approaching people in your alumni network. If you have a particular point of interest that you want to discuss, you can try “Hello, I have a question about how you were able to acquire…” or “Congrats on your latest position! Would you mind taking the time to tell me about it?”

When it comes to having an alumni network, it’s important to maintain it. Remember that as much as you want to use them for your own benefit, they have their own career and lives going on and aren’t there just to help you. Best of luck in your college career and career endeavors with your alumni network!

By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin, a second year Literary Journalism major at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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