University alumni Networking For a New Job
LinkedIn University or College Alumni Contacts Provide Excellent Network Growth Opportunities
It is something often overlooked on LinkedIn as people connect with those they studied with and forget others who they know who could have studied at the same time on different courses.
Add in your frustrations searching job boards, sending resumes into LinkedIn application black holes, and not getting responses from HR or recruiters.
Hopefully this college or University alumni networking post will help you.
Research from job websites, posts on Monster.com or similar all highlight that employees hired through referral are often hired faster than those who come from a career site.
It means your approach needs to be structured on LinkedIn, then you can track and record your connection requests and outcomes.
How to create your 5-step LinkedIn alumni marketing system
It is designed to simply:
- To introduce yourself to your University or college alumni
- Develop relationships that lead to referrals or advice request responses
- Actually connect in a meaningful way and not just be a “one hit wonder” ghost type connection.
Step 1: Update Your LinkedIn Profile
Make sure you have your LinkedIn profile updated and your CV / Resume is ready in a .pdf or easy to send word format. For a large .pdf file, consider using a free tool to compress it for easy email or file transfer. My recommended tool is a Swiss one from Smallpdf.
There is a guide on the website to help you to update your LinkedIn profile. Here we simply want to avoid common issues such as:
- A LinkedIn profile picture which may be very different to that expected by “old friends” or not show your face.
- A headline which may not say much, could be blank because you have just graduated or has a chat type statement. It does not have to be boring, when people struggle on what to write they often use a favourite quotation.
- A profile with bad use of English or mis-spelt words because it was “knocked up down the pub” or a few years ago and not used before today.
Step 2: Join Your Alumni Group on LinkedIn
Alumni are always willing to support its members, there are common bonds from “Fresher Party Week” to bar hopping, being in the halls of residence to having studied with the same professors and more.
Never forget the fact, as a recent graduate, many will remember how hard it was to get their own career started.
Step 3: Create Your Connection Letter of Introduction
Due to the changes on LinkedIn in 2018, some alumni groups are hidden or unlisted so you will have to reach out to connections you do not know at all or very well with a request.
This means you may have to start with a simpler message than you would like which will be 300 characters maximum in length. It also means you need to note who and when you will be following up with this person.
For consistency, speed and simplicity reasons, consider a template message you can cut and paste like the example one below:
Subject: Can you help? A fellow alumni
Dear <First Name>,
I graduated from <College> in <Year> with a degree in <subject>.
As a fellow alumni, I was hoping to connect to learn more about your “industry or role” plus any advice to a new starter you would be willing to share.
(297 characters including spaces)
Important: the purpose of this connection request is to not ask for a job or a referral to someone in HR or similar.
This is a time to be patient if you are to build up your network effectively.
Step 4: Send, Record For Follow-Up
A simple speadsheet is all that is required at the start, you can then save it as a .CSV or similar file for import into your Gmail, Outlook or other contacts.
Step 5: Set Up Meetings and Online or Phone Calls
You will get a mix of LinkedIn connection acceptances, acceptances with a message follow-up and complete silence with no reply.
This means you now need to be a little more organised, record notes on each call or contact. Time and time again someone will say “I know x she or he may be able to help you.”
More importantly you may be one of the few who has actually “worked” the alumni list and strangely becomes the “go-to” person for others.
Take your time and remember, many will not know you, it takes time to earn trust and yet these calls and meetings will help you to access jobs or upcoming openings which are not advertised.