An African proverb goes saying that if you want to go fast, go alone; but to go far, you need to go with others.
We saw in our previous article HOW A SINGLE MEET COULD LEAD TO A MILLION WONDERS, the importance of certain meetings in our lives and its impact in this competitive corporate world. That was just one such meet! Now scale it to, say, a thousand similar contacts at your disposal. How does your support network look now? Business possibilities, job opportunities, and corporate mentors – all the options suddenly start taking tangible shape, don’t they? Such is the power of a robust alumni network.
However, to leverage impact out of the network is entirely dependent on the efforts you make, the steps you take, and the generosity which you give back to the network. Despite being readily available and easily accessible, barely is the network utilized to its potential. Important is to realize that all the knowledge acquired over years hold little value if it is not well endorsed with/by your networks. An ideally leveraged alumni network helps in growing professional network, exploring better opportunities, gaining diverse domain knowledge and personal branding; all concentrated within a close-knit, interactive and engaging setup.
So, how to make the most of your alumni network?
Also, how do learners undertaking distance or online education see it different from the regular college-goers? While they do miss on the physical college connect, and in most cases do not even meet their peers, does that limit their options? Or, has the social media driven world opened up a host of possibilities for them to enjoy an equally vibrant connect with their alma mater?
In either of the cases, making the best out of your alumni network requires efforts, and the tips given below are surely here to help you in the long run!
The freshman years are the best years to start connecting with your alumni since you remain very much a part of the institution with warm connections, adhered sentiments, and a lot of memories to build on. Distance Education freshmen may bond upon similarly in the earlier years through portals, discussion groups, and the likes. In case you have missed that early opportunity, today must be your day to start!
Colleges often organize career fairs, alumni meets, and other similar events that can be used as a great opportunity to build contacts. Once you get the initial push, you can take it forward on your own. These events are also more credible opportunities to make a pitch since the attendees share a common thread, which would be the agenda of the event.
Facebook; LinkedIn; Instagram; and what not. The available social media platforms are powered with features that help you connect better. Most of the institutions have their alumni groups already created on these platforms, keeping you updated about the events and opportunities. Even if unavailable, it might be your chance to initiate a group and engage with the network. Dedicated professional networks also come handy in finding the right jobs and references.
It is rather human to let your connections grow cold after the initial enthusiasm dies down. However, it would be a grave mistake, especially if you have taken a favor from someone earlier. Chances of coming across again at some instance are high in this closely bound world. It is not only unprofessional but also unwise, to not keep in touch with at least a thank you note or once in a while personal message.
Find a mentor.
If you are hoping to break into a particular professional field after graduation, finding one or several mentors from the same field to guide you would be highly advantageous. A quick search on LinkedIn or your alumni circle might help you find former students who are already working in the company you’re applying to. In such a case, it is always easier to approach someone connected to your alma mater.
Keep your alumni interactions two-way. If you have profited from your alumni acquaintances, it is natural that others would expect benefits from you. So, do not forget to return the favor to other members, if and when required. This also helps you in maintaining a touch-base with newer talents for your own company or the organization.
Alumni networks, thus open doors to meet and connect with people from diverse fields of interest or profession. While many of us hesitate in taking the first step, it gets easier owing to the use of social media. Also, though distance learning students do not generally share the same classrooms, or labs, or libraries with their batch mates, it is your pride and sentiment towards your institution that connects you. Remember, it is never too late to start developing your contacts and leveraging the benefits of your alumni network, to take you ahead in building lasting and mutually beneficial relationships.
Network. Evolve. Thrive.