We’re still quite a few winks away from swearing off social networks. In the interim, there’s another one you should add to your growing list, which has now spread from Facebook and LinkedIn to Instagram and Snapchat. Educational institutions have long forayed into the habit of creating portals, which allow their alumni to interact with each other. Most of these are housed on Facebook and LinkedIn, while other institutions have established unique portals in themselves. Sikkim Manipal University of Distance Education (SMU-DE) has a strong alumni portal with a network of over 5 lakh students who’ve completed their distance education courses at the university.


Need to connect


Leveraging the alumni network is particularly important for students from distance education universities. Since distance education relies on the regular use of email, teleconferencing, and instant messaging with faculty and peers, these students may actually develop stronger and more relevant business connections with their alumni network as compared to their on-campus counterparts.


Whichever online space you are a part of, join that alumni portal as it will pay dividends in the future. Are you among those who are a part of an alumni network, but have never used it since the date of joining? It’s time to log back in (using the Forgot Password? gateway), as we list nine ways in which you can engage with and make the best use of your alumni portal:


  1. Networking


    While it may be an oversimplification, the power of networking should be nurtured by everyone, whether you’re a new college graduate or a seasoned executive. Making new contacts and nurturing the connections you make is crucial for career development. Your alumni organization provides a unique opportunity to foster relationships with people who share your personal or professional interests.


  2. Start Early


    Navigate your career exploration phase, as you join your alumni portal. Start networking as you begin your educational journey, and watch your connections strengthen in the future.


  3. Career Building


    Members of alumni associations are generally eligible for most school career centre offers. Considering a career change? Your alma mater is a great place to explore your options. Resume review services, mock interviews, placement assistance programs and personalized coaching can help you prepare for this process.


  4. Alumni Events


    Attend as many alumni association networking events as you can. A simple introduction where you disclose your interest in a certain job profile often goes a long way.


  5. Finding the right mentor


    Alumni can often pinpoint the campus experience that ignited their passion in a particular field. Mentor-mentee relationships don’t have to be formal: an alumnus you met at a networking event or a former manager from a placement or internship will also help in this case. The trick is to keep in touch on a regular basis, as any productive mentor/mentee relationship holds value to both the parties.


  6. Question


    Unlike your college interview, you are in the driver’s seat in the alumni portal. Come prepared with a list of questions to ask. Pick the others’ brains as much as you can, it is better to get your answers than stay clueless.


  7. Interview’


    Take an alumni member for coffee or lunch to have a conversation about their industry (aka an informal, informational interview). This is a great way to get advice on potential career paths and key skills, in addition to landing internships.


  8. Keep in Touch


    To keep communication channels open and provide you another reason to get in touch in the future, it is vital that your approach to alumni is conversational, friendly and ever-lasting.


  9. Appreciate


    Send a thank-you note or an e-mail to anyone who has helped you in any way!

Alumni networks help connect with professionals and influencers from diverse fields. 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 professional relationships.


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