Brian Wallace, Founder & President, NowSourcing
Networking is paramount in business. For professionals at any stage in their career, who you know matters far more than what. When you network with established professionals, it can lead to informational interviews, access to exclusive job postings, and more. For aspiring entrepreneurs, your network is the first place to look for early stage capital investments.
At the foundation of many professionals’ networks are their alumni groups. Both colleges and corporations invest in strong influence networks for their former students/employees. For universities, alumni networks are a key source of fundraising. Meanwhile, businesses use their alumni for referrals, business development, and connecting mentees with mentors. 98% of Fortune 500 companies maintain active alumni programs.
Investing in lifelong relationships leads to measurable benefits. For companies, their relationship with former employees can increase current revenue, product innovation, and employer attractiveness. Businesses that actively engage alumni see up to a 44% increase in their net new business. An engaged alumni delivers a 10% increase in brand sentiment. For certain businesses, using alumni as brand advocates is worth at least 5 times as much as an average customer.
What does this mean for individual alumni members? Alums can use the network their alma mater has developed to find true community, mentors, and even discounted sports tickets. To connect with old classmates and coworkers, keep the alumni network updated about life events. Tell your college’s alumni magazine when you change jobs or launch a startup. Volunteer with your local alumni group for the opportunity to (re)connect face to face. Don’t forget to give as much as you get from your network. Share the wisdom you’ve gained from your career during alumni events such as webinars.
In launching a business, these connections become especially important. In a venture capital study covering 19 years, founders and investors attended the same college ⅓ of the time. This indicates that investors are more likely to invest in startups founded by people from their alma mater. Shared education networks are more important than school quality and shared geography in the early stage. As a result, the size of your alumni network could be the determining factor in getting a business venture off the ground. If you have a small college network, supplement it with former coworkers.
Modern tools like LinkedIn make it easier than ever to connect with alumni. Never let the opportunity to connect with another professional pass.
Infographic provided by: AcademicInfluence.com
About the Author: Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian runs #LinkedInLocal events, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Adviser for 2016-present. Follow Brian Wallace on Linked