Using your alumni network

One of the mistakes that that 20-Somethings make, according to the Forbes article discussed in the previous post, is to “under-utilize the alumni network.” Phil Rosenberg posted an article on theladders.com (a subscription service for job seekers) about this topic in more detail. In that article, Rosenberg says:

One piece of advice that just about every career resource out there gives: Tap into your alumni network.

Have you ever noticed … no one gives you tips on exactly how to do so? So this networking advice — without additional guidance about how to access your alumni network properly (what to ask, and what to avoid) — leads most people to gain little help from an alumni network.

Rosenberg goes on to outline seven things you should NOT do:

  1. Don’t spam your alumni network
  2. Don’t network with alumni randomly
  3. Don’t bring resumes to alumni events
  4. Don’t act desperate
  5. Don’t ask for help before building trust
  6. Don’t just ask for a job
  7. Don’t ask alumni for help they aren’t able to give

What I find particularly interesting about the article is that Rosenberg doesn’t provide a whole lot of guidance either. He does tell you what not to do, but he doesn’t tell you what you should be doing instead. This negative approach (similar to what we saw in the previous blog) may get the reader’s attention, but a more helpful approach tells you what you should do in addition to what you shouldn’t do. (The Forbes article discussed on Tuesday did do a good job of providing positive steps to avoid the “mistakes” that were outlined).

In my book, I suggest ways that you can

  • learn about the services available to alumni from your school (Tip 18)
  • take advantage of alumni association membership (Tip 30)
  • use alumni as a resource when thinking about graduate school (Tip 19)
  • build your LinkedIn network by connecting with alumni (Tip 24)
  • promote yourself and your skills to other alumni (Tip 31)

Even if you didn’t develop much of a connection with your college during your years of attendance, ignoring your school’s alumni association, and the networking advantages it can provide, is a big mistake for today’s job seekers.