LinkedIn’s Find Alumni section is one of the site’s hidden gems that can make your networking activity much easier.
Tucked under the Connections menu options on your LinkedIn page, Find Alumni is a high-ROI tool that can help open doors for anyone, regardless of occupation or career level.
To maximize this tool, first fill in your Profile’s Education section with your university name, major, and other relevant facts. Next, from your LinkedIn Home page, select Connections, then Find Alumni.
Now, sit back and take in the wealth of new contacts and job search information that rolls across your screen!
1 – Find out which employers are likely to hire your classmates – or you.
Under “Where they work,” click Show More to see a broad array of employers, cities, and occupations. In the list of companies alone, you’ll be able to drill into the volume of alumni by employer, as well as by college major.
Click on any employer for a list of former classmates who work there, allowing you to quickly drill into their Profiles for insight into their career paths. You might gain insight into skills you can leverage in your search or other target occupations for your major.
Armed with this information, you can identify companies who are already familiar with the quality of graduates from your university or college.
When approaching these potential employers, you can mention your research and further emphasize the value of your education (“I’ve found that some of my former University of Iowa classmates are enjoying careers at XYZ Corporation, prompting me to inquire about your needs for a Project Director”).
2 – Identify target cities for relocation.
Review “Where they live” in the Find Alumni section, but not merely out of curiosity! This data allows you to see where employers are most likely to be familiar with your alma mater – and where you could relocate for better employment prospects.
Click on one of the Profiles of your former classmates. Have they worked for different employers in the cities shown? If so, you’ll now have even more potential companies to add to your “bucket” list.
Keep in mind that many OTHER companies in these cities are likely to be familiar with the education you’ve received at your alma mater. If so, mentioning your degree in your cover letter could provide you with an advantage when approaching these employers.
In addition, should you decide to visit (or relocate) to these cities, reaching out to the alumni on your list can create valuable new networking resources – or even friends. Many former classmates welcome alumni connections, even if you haven’t previously met.
3 – Reach out to your newly found alumni connections.
In addition to networking purely for job search, you can use Find Alumni to make an impression upon your new contacts. When reaching out on LinkedIn to add a new connection, be sure to personalize your invitation (“I found you when reviewing Engineering grads from University of Minnesota. If you ever swing by Austin, look me up”).
You can also offer to assist others in a potential job search or professional networking activity (“Should you need a contact in the Atlanta SAP community, please feel free to get in touch”). Your generosity may come in handy when you need the favor returned.
The Bottom Line
No matter the intent, staying in contact with people in your Find Alumni section can put you closer to a great set of employer, recruiter, and professional connections.
You’ll find that alumni ties are among the most intensive, lasting contacts you can make throughout your career.
(originally published on http://www.Job-Hunt.org)