Returning home – Tips for Online Networking and connecting with your University’s Alumni
Why is networking important?
Networking is often cited as the most effective way to find a job and can be extremely useful in supporting your future career by providing connections within an industry of interest and building on-going conversations. Some of the ways networking can help is by;
- Gaining careers advice andopening–up potential options.
- Obtaining a realistic picture of a profession.
- Understanding an organisation’s culture and whether you are a good match for this.
- Openingup opportunities for personal development.
- Providing introductions to useful contacts.
- Building mutually beneficial relationships, perhaps creating a coach or mentor
Remember networking is not just about what we can get from other people, just as important it is how we can help them in return.
International students on returning home after graduation may experience a reverse culture shock, taking anything from 3-12 months to find a suitable graduate position once home. However, our advice is to maintain, or build your network within your home location whilst you are studying in the UK to open-up career opportunities when you return home.
Where to network online?
Think about the industry you want to work in and any connections you may have that can help you. This could include keeping in contact your home–based network such as friends, family or previous employers allowing you to remain updated on employment situations back home. An easy, and professional way to do this is via LinkedIn. Make sure to keep yourself relevant to those employers you are interested in, follow companies on LinkedIn and connect with recruiters for these companies as this will also allow you to keep in mind deadlines for applications etc.
Expand your network and contacts using other social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. Search for organisations you are interested in and follow their activity. Moreover, employers now expect graduates to be confident users of social media and to be aware of its uses as a business tool.
What are the other benefits of connecting with your University Alumni?
Alumni can provide up to date labour market intelligence and help to give students access to privileged information. Alumni can also combine their experiential knowledge of the institution with their awareness of employers’ expectations, and support students in pitching their academic and extracurricular experiences at interview.
Alumni donate their valuable time to offer careers support to current students which enhance the students’ experience and give them that competitive edge in today’s tough jobs market. And ultimately, it is a warm connection to make as working with fellow graduates can help international alumni to feel connected to the university.
How to connect with your University Alumni using LinkedIn Alumni tool
If you have not yet commenced your studies, you can research university alumni associations in your home country before you leave, make contact with them and stay in contact with them during your studies in the UK. However, it is just as effective to build your connections whilst at University.
University pages and the Alumni tool are powerful ways to find connects who attended the same school as you. Fellow University Alumni are more likely to accept a connection as you share a common and important part of your life journey.
The Alumni section of a LinkedIn Page provides high-level insights about alumni of a school of interest, as well as access to the more detailed professional profiles they’ve shared. Scroll through the section to:
- See what alumni in your field have accomplished since graduation and expand your sense of what’s possible for you.
- Identify alumni in your field and reach out to them for their industry expertise and career opportunities.
- Learn about job opportunities and mentoring partnerships.
To access a Universities Alumni information, open your universities home LinkedIn page and click the Alumni tab at the bottom of the left-side navigation. You will see the total Alumni connected to your University, which can be narrowed down to search by where the Alumni live, subject area studied, where they work, and their current job role.
You can find like-minded or persons of interest in an industry you are pursuing within your home country by searching for Alumni who live in your home country. The next section provides a toolkit to support you in approaching alumni contacts online.
You will find detailed instructions on using the LinkedIn Alumni tool in this article
New to LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is an online professional networking tool and available in over 200 countries worldwide, with over 450 million members. This makes it the world’s largest professional network on the internet. It is a great way to not only make new contacts but also to maintain and manage your existing network.
LinkedIn is a great way of building contacts with particular employers and helps put you in touch with managers, not just the organisation’s HR department
To sign up to LinkedIn visit: https://gb.linkedin.com/ For an introduction to LinkedIn and how it can used visit: http://tinyurl.com/m9whhq7
Is your LinkedIn profile professional enough to share with new connections?
Use this comprehensive guide to create an impactful LinkedIn profile <Insert LinkedIn Guide from TC>
Your Personal brand – Are you ready to start online networking?
This fantastic article delves into the importance of personal branding and networking with practical advice on how to build your brand.
How your careers and employability team can help you build your online network:
Some Universities provide:
- Welcome events in home countries for graduating students, run by the alumni association in the home country. This is a great way to make connections with local alumni – you may be given a list of alumni attending to connect with via LinkedIn before. As with any contact you meet in person, always follow up with a LinkedIn request to stay connected.
- Cultural and social activities through the international society, including events to promote integration and programmes collaborating with international alumni
- E-mentoring programmes can also be effective at engaging international alumni virtually in campus life, and account for many international alumni who will be based outside the major cities where alumni events typically take place.
- Access to alumni networks of ex-students of your UK university who are now working in your home country.
- Most Universities offer mentoring schemes with former students, now Alumni, who offer their time to support you in developing your network and career.
- Your University may offer LinkedIn workshops or online training to enhance your online presence.
And finally, stay in touch with your University after graduation!
Your UK university stays with you forever and there will be plenty of opportunity to maintain contacts through your Universities Alumni Association.
Suzanne Kulk-Nottingham Trent University and Teresa Corcoran-University of Nottingham