Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my undergraduate alma mater, Smith College. I don’t know if it was my dentist calling me last week to tell me that his daughter is interested in applying to Smith. Perhaps it was actually committing my year-end annual gift to the school. Was it missing my cohort – the group of women who I continue to consider sisters – the ones with whom co-existence is so darn easy, where we pick right back up where we left off, even when it’s been months? Perhaps I’m just feeling wistful. Doesn’t much matter. Smith is in my blood… it’s become part of my personal DNA and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that it factors into my thoughts on a fairly regular basis.
Imagine my excitement today when I received a message from the College’s LinkedIn Group with the subject line, “Resolve to Network More in 2012!” The body of the message said the following:
This year, resolve to network more with Smithies!
IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A JOB…
- seek informational interviews with alums in your field
- join a group or subgroup for your field
- ask for help and advice
IF YOU’RE NOT LOOKING FOR A JOB… spread the karma!
- post jobs (or job discussions) to the group
- start conversations – what have you learned about your field or job searching?
- offer to do informational interviews or give resume feedback
So, folks, when building out your professional network, don’t forget your alma mater! Whether you went to Smith or a state university or the local community college, the sentiment behind the email I received is all about the importance and power and opportunity presented by alumni/alumnae organizations. The shared experience of a college education alone is enough to connect you to others all over the world who attended your school. These are people with whom you share an immediate connection. Your diploma is an automatic entry ticket to their circle.
Are you new to town? Are you looking for a job? Do you need a racquetball partner? Bet you can find a fellow alumnus/alumna – someone from your school’s local alumni chapter – to help out, offer advice and point you in the right direction, regardless of what you are seeking. If you are not in search of something yourself, avail yourself to others who are. The reciprocal nature of the relationships that you build will become instantly invaluable.