Professionals come in all shapes, sizes, and abilities. Some rise to the top of established companies while others start their own. Yet despite their diversity, they all have one thing in common: networking. Many of us have heard the phrase “it’s not what you know, but who.” It’s true; networking with established professionals is critical to success. Knowing the right people can land you informational interviews, access to exclusive job postings, and even promotions. For individuals who set off to become entrepreneurs, your network is your ticket to early stage investment capital.
For most professionals, the foundation of their network are former classmates and coworkers. Having a common institution from your education or workplace brings people together. It helps that both colleges and corporations maintain active influence networks for their own purposes. For colleges, alumni networks are important sources of fundraising. Elite universities can bring in billions in donations from their former students. They want current and future students to see the same success they have. Student organizations also benefit from connecting their current members with graduated ones for mentorship and professional expertise.
Corporate Influence Networks
On the corporate side, alumni networks help the business drive referrals, increase sales, and foster mentorship. Investing in lifelong relationships leads to measurable benefits. When businesses keep good relations with their former employees, they see a 4.5x increase in product innovation and 6x increase in employer attractiveness. Word of mouth works better than any marketing campaign when it comes to attracting talent. If former employees still remember the business fondly, they can drive more people to the company (or even return themselves).
In the world of venture capital, the value of alumni networks takes on an additional meaning. In a study tracking 19 years of venture capital, the founder and investor shared an alma mater one third of the time. Investors often think well of their former school. Anyone who also came from their school is perceived as more worthy in the investor’s eyes. In starting a business, founders who went to schools with large alumni networks raise more capital than other entrepreneurs. Education networks are more important to early-stage investors than school quality or shared geography.
Take advantage of alumni networks in your life today. If your college has a regular alumni magazine, send them updates when you change names or jobs. Volunteer with alumni in your area as a chance to reconnect. Find true community.
Infographic provided by: AcademicInfluence.com