As you hopefully know, LinkedIn tracks your academic affiliations and quickly enables you to connect with fellow alumni. This alumni network is a portion of your overall LinkedIn connections that often goes unnoticed and underutilized.
Yet you share something valuable with your alumni connections – an experience that lasted for months to years. Leveraged wisely, this shared experience can deepen your LinkedIn results and help you attract more of what you’re looking for, whether that is career opportunities, interviews, introductions to industry influencers, referrals, or new business.
First, it’s helpful to check out the current size of your LinkedIn alumni network. To do this:
- Select the “Advanced” link to the right of the LinkedIn search bar on any page.
- On the Advanced People Search overlay, select School and add the name of the institution you wish to search. If you are an alumni of multiple schools, you may want to add all of them at once or conduct separate searches for each. Click Search.
LinkedIn will note your relationship level in the search results. You will find it helpful to filter those results by relationships and save each search separately. That is, filter out your first-level connections and save them. Next filter out your second-level connections and save them, and then filter out your Group connections and save them. Since you will use each list a little differently, it helps to pare them down in meaningful ways.
If you have worked for very large organizations, you may also want to identify alumni you are connected to who have also worked for those same companies. Once again, this gives you a meaningful shared experience you can leverage for networking purposes. While many large companies have formal LinkedIn alumni networks, you don’t necessarily have to join or use one to benefit from your connections with other Microsoft alumni, say. The fact that you both used to work at the same company will be enough to jumpstart a business- or career-building relationship.
What do you do with your alumni lists now that you have them?
- Filter your individual alumni lists into smaller segments divided by industries or companies.
- Filter your alumni lists into companies and identify those who currently work or used to work at organizations you are targeting in your career search.
- Filter your alumni lists into companies and identify those who currently work or used to work at competitor organizations.
When you approach or message your alumni connections, remember to always “give to get”. Give resources, information, or referrals to build the relationship first before you make a request of the connection. Once you have done so you can:
- Promote second-/third-level and Group connections to first-level contacts by connecting directly.
- Request introductions to key influencers in one or more industries.
- Request introductions to hiring executives in one or more target companies.
- Solicit insider information into the culture of a target company.
- Identify competitors to your target companies you may wish to add to your list. Or use the competitive insight gained to adjust your approach to the firm you are targeting.
- Request referrals to open positions. Most mid- to large-size companies have employee referral programs that reward staff for referring candidates who are later hired, making this road an often fast route to employment.
Don’t overlook the power of your alumni network. By segmenting it and increasing it proactively using LinkedIn’s built-in suggestion tool, you can dramatically enhance and multiply your LinkedIn results.