Networking: 4 Easy Steps

                One of the most beneficial things you can get out of college is an education and help from others. So many students are unaware of how to meet alumni or how to get help from them when they need it. Alumni can help with anything from giving you opinions and sharing their experiences to helping you get an interview or even score an internship. But how do you meet with them, and more importantly what should you say to them? I have a little bit of wisdom on this topic and I’m going to share it with you!

1.Get Involved!

Obviously before asking for help from alumni (or them offering to help) you must meet them! But how do you do that? By getting involved in an organization on campus like greek life, sports, major clubs, and honors programs not only will you be connected to many other current students, you will also be introduced to former students who are now working in the real world. Since the people you are meeting are alumni and you already have things in common with them, many can and will help you! In my experience, I have already met tons of people who have promised to help me with internships and even suggested grad school programs.

 

2.Introduce yourself and have a conversation.

The best way to meet someone is to talk to them! If you know the names of the people that you will be meeting it may be nice to take a glance at their Linkedin page or information on the alumni website to see if there is anything else you may have in common to talk about. Once I had a conversation that started about a job that someone had and then ended with him offering me an internship and email information about graduate schools. That conversation sure paid off! Actively listen to what the alum is saying and ask questions that require more than a one word answer. They cannot help you if they don’t know what you’re asking!

 

3.Connect on LinkedIn

The night after you meet or within 48 hours is usually the best time to request a connection on LinkedIn. If the person you are speaking to does not mention anything about LinkedIn during your conversation, you can politely ask if you can connect on LinkedIn. Most alumni will happily agree because people love making more connections! To connect with a person all you need to know is their name (which hopefully you’ll know if you’ve spoken to them!) and then click to request. It is acceptable to include where you met them or what you talked about in the request box. If it was a large event it is possible that they spoke to dozens of people so try to make yourself memorable (in a good way!).

 

4.Keep in contact

So now you’ve met and connected. If you’re not actively pursuing a job or internship right now you probably brush networking off to the side as unimportant. When the time comes to be looking for internships, it is a bad idea to randomly send them an email asking for a job or internship help if you haven’t spoken in years. Networking is like a friendship, you need to actively be involved to keep your connections aware of what you are doing. This doesn’t mean that you need to email them weekly or anything extreme but if you found something relevant and interesting that you would like to share with them then you could send them a link to an article asking what they think of it. As long as you are active on LinkedIn everyone in your network will be seeing it. After you initially make email contact and have established a better connection through various emails/events/interactions you can ask for advice. Do not just ask for an internship or job. If the person wants to help you at this point they should be very willing!

 

IUP has wonderful alumni and a very active alumni network. By getting to know the alumni, who knows what doors could be opened for you? Get involved and get to know some people, you never know what might happen!