with a college degree has a ready-made network comprised of their
college's alumni, many who will go out of their way to help fellow
alumni who are job hunting.
With online alumni directories, reaching out to them for help has never been easier.
There’s a club you belong to with numerous high-placed members, many of
whom will be happy to talk to you during your job search.
That club is the alumni of your alma mater. Regardless of
whether you have a Wharton degree or went to Northeast Nowhere State,
there are going to be alumni of your college (or MBA program, prep school, PhD
program, etc.) in prominent positions.
Unlike pursing people you don’t know or who are friends of your friends’
friends, this is a group with whom you instantly have something in
Most colleges have online alumni directories now. Many are searchable
by industry parameters. They’re giving you a networking directory.
Best to contact these people by printed snail mail. Some people have
told me that they’ve also been successful with emails with alumni
contacts. A follow-up phone call can’t hurt, as well.
Before you launch your
alumni contact campaign, make sure you’re current about what’s going on
at your school. Even if you hate sports, make sure you know
what’s happening with the school’s key athletic teams. Learn the
president’s name, the latest campus news, and send in a donation,
even a $10 one, to get yourself listed on that donors list that many
colleges mail out or post on the internet (that donor’s list is also
worth checking – if the person you want to connect with is on the big
donors list, he or she is even more likely to meet a fellow alum.
The alum you meet may want to talk about the time he and his friends stole a
campus police car and tried to drive it in the lake (no, I didn’t do
this, but three of my friends did), the time they pushed a piano out
the window of the student center, or he may bore you with talk about the
new Physics building. Provide intelligence – about your alma mater, and
even better, about his industry, assuming that you two come from the
same one, and eventually, the meeting could lead to a job lead.
Don't stop with your schools' alumni. What other
groups are you a member of that have alumni networks? Consulting and
accounting firms often publish alumni directories. If you spent the
first eight years of your career with Price Waterhouse Coopers, a CFO who
earned her spurs with PWC will probably figure you were well-trained,
and will often be happy to meet with you. Fraternities and sororoties
have alumni networks as well, and the theta delta chi alumni
network could connect you with fellow alums who are in your backyard,
even if you live in Louisiana and went to a small college in
Oregon. Write down any organizations in which you are or have been a
member, and then think hard about how you can reach out to other
members of these groups.