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How to Network With Alumni

iStock_000054102964_Small two women talking in cafeNetworking is a key step in a successful job search. Conversations with other people can help you learn more about an occupation or organization and explore different career paths.

However, many people find networking to be difficult. They share that they:

  • Don’t know what to say
  • Feel intimidated
  • Don’t want to bother anyone
  • Are introverted

We have some tried and true suggestions to help you get started and make you feel more comfortable about the process. Some of these suggestions come directly from alumni!

  1. Role reversal: if someone approached you for career advice, you would probably be delighted to help! It can be reassuring to realize that the people you reach out to are too; in fact, they were probably in your shoes at one time. Realizing this can immediately put you more at ease.
  2. Ask questions or ask for advice: when you don’t know the person already, the best approach is to ask specific questions or for specific pieces of advice to help you clarify your direction or make a decision. (“I am a recent graduate and would like to work as a fundraiser in the non-profit sector. I would welcome your advice on the kinds of experiences I should target now to best position me for that role”).
  3. Be specific about why you chose this person: review the person’s LinkedIn profile to determine what you’d like to know (“I’m also considering a transition from law to human resources management and would appreciate hearing about your strategy.”).
  4. Be respectful of their time: these conversations usually last 15-30 minutes. Keep a close eye on the time, and buy their coffee if you are meeting in person.
  5. Thank them: Make sure to thank them, both during your conversation and with a note afterwards. Some may also ask you to keep them posted on your progress so be sure to follow up if they do!
  6. Check out our website for more networking resources!