6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Next Alumni Networking Event

Turn your next alumni event into a networking goldmine with these tips.

There’s no denying the power of a valuable network. Studies show that you’re 10 times more likely to land a job when your application is accompanied by an employee referral. And a survey by Alumnifire, a digital platform for alumni networks, found that 90 percent of hiring managers would prefer to hire a fellow alumnus, if given the option.

Whether you’re searching for a job, building a business, seeking a mentor, or simply want to advance your career, alumni networking events can be goldmines for uncovering important connections and resources.

Here are six quick tips to help you make the most of these alumni events.

Set a goal.
Before you attend an event, ask yourself, “What do I want to get out of this?” Are you looking for potential clients or career advice? Give yourself a clear goal to accomplish at the get-together.

Stay on brand.
Remember, whether you’re in or out of the workplace, you’re representing your personal brand. What do you want people to think when they think of you?

Step out of your comfort zone.
Casual networking events at local watering holes can quickly turn into mini-reunions with the friends you already see on a regular basis. Force yourself to talk to at least three alums you don’t know and would likely not interact with outside of this event. They have the most potential to expand your network the furthest.

Listen more than you speak.
Networking and the job search are often compared to dating, and with good reason. Like any good first date, your goal is to listen more than you speak to the person in front of you. Remember, you were born with two ears and only one mouth – follow the ratio.

Pay it forward.
Always look for ways to provide value to the person with whom you’re speaking before you start asking for favors. The more you learn about them, the easier it will be to offer assistance (and get it in return!). This could be anything from a restaurant recommendation to an introduction to someone in your existing network.

Follow up.
It seems so simple, and yet many of us flub this critical step in the networking process. Think of each networking event as a speed dating exercise. If you get someone’s phone number but never call them afterwards, the evening was a waste. Similarly, the business cards you collect are only as valuable as what you choose to do with them after you get them. Reach out, follow up and start nurturing these connections to turn them into valuable and mutually beneficial relationships.