Do’s and Don’ts When Networking with Alumni

One of the best ways for students to get insight and information about their desired industry or company is to network with alumni. Although networking does not always guarantee a job or internship opportunity, the benefits are great when you are able to create meaningful professional connections, and apply what you learn from those relationships to your own career development. Below are some tips on what you should and shouldn’t do as you prepare to network with NYU alumni.

DO

  1. Join LinkedIn and learn how to use it effectively: Just having an account with a picture or updated professional information is not enough! You should have a dynamic page that shows employers your career path, competencies, and accomplishments. Once your LinkedIn profile is complete, you should join groups related to your industry and use the “Find Alumni” feature to connect with recent and seasoned NYU alumni with whom you can try to meet for informational interviews. You can learn more about how to use LinkedIn for effective networking here.

  2. Conduct informational interviews with alumni: Once you’ve been successful in connecting with alumni and you have a date set for an informational interview, it’s your time to shine! Make sure that you ask smart questions related to the trends, hiring practices, and company culture. This is also your chance to discuss your professional accomplishments and goals. The alumnus/a with whom you’re meeting might remember this when a position opens at their company!

  3. Attend seminars and info sessions offered by the Wasserman Center: We provide many opportunities for you to connect to employers in a variety of fields. Whether you’re a first-year student exploring career paths, or a senior who has decided on a specific industry, career panels and company info sessions will allow you to meet with employers and explore internship and job opportunities at their companies. Make sure that you follow-up with these recruiters with a “Thank You” note within 48 hours! You can sign-up for panels, info sessions and other employer-led career events at Wasserman via CareerNet.

  4. Join professional associations and student clubs at NYU: If you’re serious about an industry, it is wise to invest in a national or local professional membership. Professional associations allow you to meet and network with professionals (many of them, NYU alumni) who can show you the ropes of the industry and provide valuable leads in your job/internship search. Many of these professional associations have student membership rates so you don’t have to break the bank! Equally, NYU offers many opportunities for students to get involved in professional-oriented clubs/organizations where alumni are invited as guests to many of their events. This is your chance to start building connections with alumni as a student! You can contact the NYU Student Resource Center or the Office for Student Activities, Leadership and Service to learn more about affinity groups and student organizations.

  5. Gain access to the professional network at Wasserman: The Wasserman Center’s Professional  Network helps NYU students explore careers by linking them with alumni and other professionals who have expressed an interest in helping students gain valuable information about industries through informational interviews, phone/Skype appointments, job shadowing, or e-mail exchanges. To access the Professional Network, students should visit the Wasserman Center during walk-in hours. A career coach will briefly go over protocol and the steps to utilize our Professional Network through your NYU CareerNet account

DON’T

  1. Spam alumni networks: Sending your resume to everyone on an alumni listserv never works well. Don’t create a negative online reputation by inconveniencing your colleagues. Spamming your network, mostly composed of alumni who don’t know you personally, is a surefire way to get you blacklisted before they even meet you.

  2. Network with alumni randomly: In the past, people welcomed calls from fellow alumni because it was the only way to connect with past classmates. Today, random calls from fellow alumni are almost always met with mistrust. Remember, your networking should be intentional and specific. Networking with individuals who don’t have a clear connection with you won’t establish much initial trust or help in your job/internship search.

  3. Act desperately or negatively: When you overshare your job search issues, challenges or even goals with a fellow alum who doesn’t know you personally, you start to sound desperate. This can make the conversation uncomfortable, especially if they don’t have an immediate solution to your problem. Talking negatively about a past job or supervisor will not land you in the best position with a potential colleague or boss. Make sure that all of your interactions with alumni (whether via e-mail, phone, or in person) are uplifting, positive, and related to obtaining meaningful advice for your career and job/internship search.

  4. Just ask for a job: Asking an alum, whom you probably don’t know very well, for a job nearly always fails. What makes you think that this person has any oversight of the hiring at their company or that they even have openings?. Even if that alum is a hiring manager with openings for which you’re qualified, you’re assuming that having an alma mater in common will get you a job and this is not the case. Remember that employers have procedures to follow when hiring new talent.  Why waste their time and ruin a potentially valuable connection from the start? There is much more value that a fellow alum can provide than just directing you to a job site, concentrate on that instead.

  5. Ask alumni for help if you aren’t able to reciprocate: Networking is a two-way street and you should always be willing and happy to provide assistance to those who have helped you in the past. You don’t have to be an expert in your field to offer help to a fellow alum. Just keep abreast of new developments and trends in your field and share valuable information with them whenever is appropriate and relevant. You’ll be surprised how a small act of kindness and professional collaboration can create great dividends for your career!

To start you off with alumni networking attend Passing the Torch: Student/Alumni Meet-up during Welcome Week at the Wasserman Center!

Monday, August 31, 2015, 6:00pm – 7:30pm-Main Wasserman Office, Presentation Room A
Network with successful recent alumni from different organizations. Learn tips on navigating college to provide a great foundation for your future career. Alumni from different industries will be on hand to give you an inside look into their industries. Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP for this event via CareerNet.