Making Strong Alumni Connections

I know many, many people who are beyond proud of their colleges and universities. They are passionate about their schools. They light up when talking about their college days. They wear their team colors, on both game days and throughout the year. And, they are still in touch with many of their classmates - on LinkedIn as well as several social media platforms.

Knowing so many people are well-connected from their university days, and loyal to the schools they attended - how can we better harness our own alumni connections? In a genuine and professional manner?

In last week’s post No Network? No Problem..., two of the 10 suggestions included recommendations on better harnessing university alumni connections. It was just a quick list of ideas. Without any depth to each recommendation. Today's post expands on #4 and #5 from the list - both regarding making strong alumni connections.

4. Attend a university alumni event for your own university or that of a close

friend, relative, partner or spouse

5. Offer to host an alumni event; and make sure the format includes a few

minutes for you to introduce yourself (and maybe a dynamite guest speaker!)

and thank everyone for attending

I’ve been building my personal and professional network for so many years, I sometimes take for granted elements that come second nature to me when making suggestions to others.

Depending on the college or university you attended, the geography you currently live in, and several other factors, some or all of the suggestions below might be a worthwhile use of your time.

You, and you alone, will need to discern what effort will be valuable to your professional career (now and in the future), and what will be just a nice to have in connecting and bonding with those who share your alma mater in common.

Last week’s list specifically called out both attending an alumni event and hosting an alumni event. I was specifically thinking about university alumni; however, don't forget about high school connections as well.

Here are some easy ways to execute on either of these ideas:

  • Make sure you are receiving emails and newsletters from your university

  • Research if your geography has a local alumni club, chapter, or established group, make sure you are on the email list, or social media page that announces events and the like

  • Research how frequently your local alumni group meets, and what kind of events (social, business networking, volunteering, sporting events, etc.)

  • Consider volunteering to help plan or run an upcoming event already scheduled

  • Some alumni associations have an annual fee - don't be afraid to research if it's worth the membership for you at this time in your life, maybe even talk to someone who's been a member in the last few years and the value they've seen

  • Call your university, specifically alumni giving, alumni development, or university advancement and talk with someone who actually plans alumni events in your geography specifically

  • Build relationships and meet new people from whichever office you get connected to

  • Ask to speak to the person assigned to your geography and ask if they've hosted any business networking events in recent years, how many attended, and their feedback

  • Ask if you'd be able to host a business networking event in the future; and more specifically if your university will provide staff, advertisement, planning support, money to go towards food or drinks, swag, a guest speaker from the school of business, and the like

  • Don't forget to add your new university contacts to your LinkedIn network

  • Ask about formal and informal alumni mentors in the business community

  • Attend the next local event already planned, virtual or in-person

  • Keep trying new things to meet, connect, and engage with more alumni

I, myself, am a Dayton Flyer. We Flyers would do almost anything for each other - even including alumni we've never even met. If a Dayton Flyer asks for time on my calendar, it's an automatic yes. I've lived in three different markets and have met passionate and active alumni in all three cities. I've hosted business networking events outside of my own market while traveling. I've served on my university's alumni board of directors. I've chaired committees. And I'm grateful and thankful for every single friendship, acquaintance, and business connection I've made in all of these years as an active alum.

You do not need to be as involved as I chose to be to build your professional network. All you have to do is consider #4 and #5 from last week's list.

Attend an event. Host an event.

I can't wait to hear your stories!