The easiest way to network
Episode 178 - Seven reasons why you should keep in contact with your former colleagues
Networking is an essential part of career development, but many people struggle to know how to connect, who to connect with, and how to access the right network to support their careers. One great source of contacts, support, and mentorship is an alumni network. Whether you are a graduate or a former employee of a school, university, or company, an alumni network can provide a wealth of benefits for your career.
Alumni networks offer powerful benefits not only for employees but also for companies themselves. Alumni networks can help build stronger strategic partnerships, welcoming back talent that has left but remained connected through the alumni program or personal contacts. Trent Henry, EY Global Vice Chair of Talent, says, “Each year, around 15% of our external hires are from our alumni community.”
Alumni associations also offer a considerable array of career resources. For example, UCLA One is an online career support site that launched in 2016 and gained 1,600 volunteer mentors in its first ten days. The site contains a job-search database, career advice, networking, and mentorship opportunities.
An alumni network can provide a goldmine of business intelligence and referrals for job openings. Building strong relationships with colleagues can also lead to collaboration on projects, better results, and recognition for your work. Colleagues who are more experienced can serve as mentors, providing guidance and advice to help you navigate your career path.
To find your alumni network, you can look on LinkedIn, LinkedIn Groups, online, or check the websites of your school, university, or company. Alumni dinners and reunions can also be great opportunities to connect with people and build relationships. Alumni newsletters can also provide valuable information and updates.
In conclusion, if you’re on the lookout for new hires, considering your next career move, or just want to keep a pulse on the job market, an alumni network can be a great place to start. Alumni networks provide a rich source of contacts, support, and mentorship that can help people navigate career changes and progress in their careers.
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About the Host, Renata Bernarde
Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.
If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.
In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients
Timestamps to guide your listening
Business Intelligence (8:36)
Ask them if they can be your referees for a job you are applying. (11:41)
Course Collaboration (12:53)
Keeping in touch is a learning opportunity (13:58)
Rejoin the organization (15:01)
Transcript of this episode
Making an approach to someone you have previously worked with or who comes recommended through that person that you worked with can be very beneficial for you to understand what's happening in a specific sector, industry or city that you want to work in.
And because that person has your trust and understands you. It makes it much more interesting than just Googling things online.
Hello, everybody. Welcome to the job hunting podcast. If you're new here, don't forget to subscribe wherever you found us. I think you're going to find that this resource, the job hunting podcast might be very useful to your future career plans and job searching strategies. Today, I'm here to talk to you about the easiest way to network.
And this is something I have done myself many times, and I often recommend to my clients. So I hope that you stick around to know what I'm talking about. But just in case you are new, don't forget to also subscribe to my newsletter. I have a newsletter that goes out every week on a Tuesday morning, Melbourne time. And it has the new episode of the job hunting podcast. It also has articles that I think are of benefit to professionals who are looking for work or just thinking about doing better plans for their careers. So I'd love for you to sign up for my newsletter. I'm going to live the link to sign up to the newsletter down below into the episode channel. So have a look at that. And also have a look at my website and see the career services that I provide. Maybe there's something there for you
By the time you listen to this episode, I will have closed job hunting made simple, which is my online course and group coaching program. But you can go to my website and register your interest to attend it. Next time I run it, I do it twice a year. So something to keep in mind, if you want to be working with me and alongside all the interesting professionals like you.
Looking for work as a team, as a group. It's so interesting. And so. High energy, as opposed to the loneliest that the lonely pursuit of job hunting, that most of us have experienced, so I would strongly recommend.
Now, what is the easiest way to network? I'm going to give you seven reasons why you should keep in contact with your former colleagues. And let's talk about what that really means. Because we all know that networking is a vital component of career development. We know that right. Whatever your current career challenges are, when it's seeking advice on a new job opportunity, or you need an introduction to someone in a specific organization where you plan to apply for a job. Or simply you're building relationships with people that you value networking and connecting with someone you trust can have a very positive effect on your career progression.
However, many of us struggled to know how to connect, who to connect with, and how to access that network to support your career dreams and aspirations. I have found that the alumni network provides a reach source of contact, support, and mentorship that can really help you navigate these career changes that come up every now and then.
If you have gone to a high school, a college or university, or you've had a job in the past, and chances are, you are part of an alumni. Alumni stands for a graduate to group of graduates. Or former students of a school, college, or a university. It's a plural now. So if you're an individual, you're not an alum.
And if it's a group, it's an alumni. So, for example, I am part of the Melbourne university alumni. And the Monash university alumni, I'm a member of those two groups.
Sometimes they formal groups like university ones, you have to sign up online. You are an alumni if you're graduated from it, but it's always good to keep your contact details up to date and subscribed to the alumni newsletter and so on. And usually most colleges, universities, and even high schools will have some sort of formal way of doing that online. So please go online and have a look. And also you can be a member of company alumnus, that is the alumni term. Has also been used more and more now for company, former employees, some organizations like, and. E Y PWC McKinsey, Hewlett packet.
They're working really hard on building alumni networks that helped them stay connected with their former employees. And also help employees stay connected with each other.
These companies really rely on their alumni network to build strong partnerships, collaborations, prospecting clients. It's really beneficial for them. So, for example, if you have worked at a management consulting firm like McKinsey, and you're now working at. You know, a corporate organization. Chances are if you need a consultant, you will go back to Mackenzie, to your former colleagues and ask them to support you with a specific project. So that alumni network, if it's nurtured well, can really benefit a company, but it has wonderful benefits for the individuals as well.
Are you part of an alumni network? Well, I'm sure you are. Maybe you haven't really paid attention to it much, but with a bit of digging and research online, I'm sure you can find out these organizations.
I wouldn't skip joining those LinkedIn groups and signing up to those email newsletters that alumni networks usually have. They are a gold mine of information for you. And so if you're in the lookout for job opportunities, you're considering your next career move. You just want to keep a pulse on what's happening on the job market.
Contacting your alumni can be a great place to start.
Alumni associations also offer a considerable amount of career resources. I have in fact, worked with some alumni associations in high schools and universities. To support their alumni with career resources, offering. Specific discounts for them or access to masterclasses and free resources and paid resources.
So have a look online, I'm sure that you will find that you were a member of an alumni that offered those opportunities. So things like job search databases are very common for alumni websites. Career advice, networking functions and events, and also mentorship opportunities. So both for you to become a mentor or to be mentored by somebody.
I have been a mentor for a Melbourne university for a few years. And it was a lovely experience for me. I'm still in touch with those mentees. They are lovely people.
So, what are the benefits that you can expect to find from being connected with alumni networks?
I have come up with seven different benefits. I'm sure there could be more, I'd love to hear from you. If you have had great results by being in touch with your alumni.
So number one for me is business intelligence, just gathering knowledge and understanding of job markets through connecting with an alumni network, attending events and talking to people with no expectations. You're not seeking a job. You're not trying too hard. You're just there to gather knowledge and understanding.
It's a great starting point when you're considering making your next career move to being involved with your alumni. Making an approach to someone you have previously worked with or who comes recommended through that person that you worked with can be very beneficial for you to understand what's happening in a specific sector, industry or city that you want to work in.
And because that person has your trust and understands you. It makes it much more interesting than just Googling things online. You know, it's much more tailored to you and I would strongly recommend I have done this many times in my career. I remember. Flying to Sydney and catching up with former colleagues there, connecting with them, getting ideas, telling them what my plans were for the future and hearing what.
Also here in Melbourne, of course, but you know, even taking that extra step of going into state to meet with people that I really valued. I valued their opinions or their understanding of the job market that has always been very helpful to me.
And those were not formal alumni, they were just people that worked with me in the past and I kept in touch with.
The second thing is referrals. So your former colleagues, your former bosses, and also people that you studied with in university can be a great source of referrals for job openings. Referrals are very big and large organizations.
Even in small organizations as well. Of course. And these people may be aware of job opportunities that are not even advertised yet, and they may be a good fit for you and your skills and experience. So if you're top of mind with those people, they will think of you and they will refer you for those opportunities.
Many times there is a financial benefit for them. To refer a great people for roles. So if you get the job, for example, they could make some money out of it. As an incentive for bringing great candidates and attracting good talent to the organization. So keeping in touch with them because this could really benefit you.
In fact, you may have seen that in some online applications. There is sometimes a question. Have you been referred to this opportunity by someone that works in this organization and then you have to type in their name? So this is what it means. And sometimes it's more formal. Sometimes it's informal.
The third benefit I can think of is. You can ask them to be your referees for a job you are applying or just to be a referee in case you, you know, decides to look for work. In a more sort of generic way. I have always been in touch with previous. Bosses or colleagues of mine and, you know, have asked them to be my referees from time to time.
Sometimes for a specific job applications, but sometimes just in general, you know, I would say something along the lines of, do you mind if I put you with down as a referee for future job opportunities, I will keep you in the loop. I will keep you up to date. But you know, it just wanted to make sure that that's okay with you.
And once you make that request, I think it's expected of you to nurture that relationship and keeping touch with that person. Above and beyond your needs for a referee for a future job. Do I think it's good to keep in touch because that person is doing you a huge favor and you want to nurture that relationship, not to be just transactional.
The fourth benefit is of course collaboration, you know, building strong relationships with colleagues, former colleagues and former college or university students that you've had in the past can make it much easier to work on projects. When you were working for one organization, they are working with a partner organization.
It just leads to better results. If you know that person and you can quickly get in touch with them and initiate the collaboration, the project partnership. It's really important and beneficial, not just for your career, but for your current employer. So those collaborations are really important.
And again, in my career, I have done this several times. Building collaborations with people that I had worked with in the past getting in touch with them. To find the best way around bureaucracy is or bottlenecks. And then that was also really beneficial.
Number five. And the benefits of keeping in touch with your alumni is learning opportunities. You're. You're all colleagues, former colleagues. I can also provide valuable learning opportunities and share experience and knowledge with you that you are not currently aware of because sometimes we're so focused on our own job or our own life. We kind of miss out on trends and skills and things that are happening in the industry that are just not In our focus. It's not something we're paying attention to. So keeping in mind that those conversations that are not transactional. You're not talking to somebody because you need a job, you know? That's the least of the reasons why you should connect with a network.
You should connect with your network for opportunities like this, you know, just organic holistic opportunities that just makes you a better professional. And you can learn a lot from talking to other professionals like you.
Number six is you could rejoin the organization at a later stage of your career. So this is specific for company alumni, like I mentioned before. Many companies are now giving considerable attention to their alumni networks. And I recently read that and Mustang. Has around 15% of their new hires coming from their alumni community. Now I'm not really clear if that means that they are rehiring people that had worked with them for.
Or if they're hiring people that have been recommended. From their alumni community, but either way it shows how important it is for them. To keep in touch with their alumni.
I'll add the link to that. Article down below in the episode, show notes. If you want to have a look.
I'm also adding to the episode, show notes, another article, it's a short one listing the most powerful company alumni so that you can have a look and see if you belong to any of them.
Then you have number seven as the final benefit that I could think of is the mentorship. You know, colleagues who are more experienced than you can become great mentors, provide guidance for you. As you advance in your career, they will give you advice to help you navigate problems that you're having at work.
I have always found is incredibly useful to me. And I have always sought the help of mentors that people that have worked with me before to navigate some big issues or small issues that I had at work. And they were always incredibly supportive. People love giving advice. And think that I do. I think that if you can tap in that really interesting, supportive part of people's careers and professions. You know, if they are a few years ahead of you, or sometimes they're exactly at the same stage that you are, but they have experienced something that you have not experienced yet. And you can definitely count on them to support you and share with you their experiences and their recommendations and advice for you to navigate your career with fewer bumps along the way.
Okay. So now that we've identified several benefits and how easy it is to network with people that you know, or that you have something in common with, for example, you've worked in the same organization. Or you went to the same university. Where do you find them? Well, let's look at places where you can find them. Okay. First of all, there is LinkedIn, right? So the search engine on LinkedIn is fantastic.
You can put the name of the organization or university there and find a whole bunch of people that worked in that organization. And then, you can search by city. So for example, I have recently worked with a client who was leaving an organization. And wanted to take the next step. So what I suggested to him was why don't you find people that have worked in your organization that are also based in your talent. Let's say they're based in Melbourne. So let's say your organization is heal at pocket. You would go and you would type in Hewlett Packard. On the LinkedIn search and then look for people that are in Melbourne and that have Hilda Parker as their past. Company, not their current company.
And you can use all those different filters on LinkedIn to find people.
Alternatively, you can go to the hill at packer. LinkedIn page.
Or your university LinkedIn page. And you can look at people that are currently working there, or people that have worked there before. With the university pages it's even better because you can search alumni by. A location it's so easy and you can find all of the people that are currently based in Melbourne that have a LinkedIn profile. Of course.
And that has gone to the same university as you have. It could be university in the UK, it could be an university in Canada. And, you know, you would find the individuals that are based in Melbourne and you then. Seek to connect with them. The other way of engaging alumni through LinkedIn is by being involved in that university's LinkedIn groups and, you know, they have alumni groups and I believe that some organizations also have alumni groups on LinkedIn.
So in my case, I am a member of the. Monash university alumni group on LinkedIn, also the Monash business school alumni group. And the you know, different faculties have alumni groups and the university at large has alumni groups on LinkedIn. So have a look at those and sign up to become a member you have to ask to join.
I've recently just joined another specific alumni group from the university of Melbourne, because they gave me a fellowship and to have a group just for the university and enterprise fellows, which I'm a member of now. So have a look at signing up for specific groups as well as the larger groups.
Okay. The other way to find your alumni is checking the organizations, websites. So universities and other organizations like you, EY you go to their website. And you check out their alumni groups and you sign up for those as well, make sure that they have your contact details. And you can check out the alumni events. They're usually dinners, reunions, sporting events you can attend.
And these are true for high schools, colleges, universities. And like I said, companies as well. So an organization like your wife, for example, has over 1 million members and their alumni network all over the world. And many of them say that they are very happy for other alumni to reach out to them for advice. And I can say that that's true also for universities and high schools and colleges as well. Melbourne university, for example, has alumni associations not only here, email, then. But running events in the UK and many other countries in Southeast Asia. And the us and other Australian cities like Sydney, for example. So don't think that because you moved countries that you may not be involved with your university alumni. I'm pretty sure that many universities now have international diasporas and they cater for those as well. And those alumni usually have newsletters and they share discounts and events and invitations for both alumni events and other events that are promoted through their alumni community. So have a look at those and be in touch.
I think it's important for you to identify a couple of interesting groups that you click with, that you gel well with. And then participate. In those groups events in a known, going way. Just the standing it once may not really result in anything big for you. But if you attend that events in that group for a couple of years and you invest time and energy in developing and nurturing relationships within that group. That's when I think. Networking really clicks and start to provide professional and personal benefits to your life. I hope you have enjoyed learning a little bit more about this very simple way to network and connect and I hope that you keep connected with me as well, and I will talk to you at the next episode. Bye for now.