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6 Benefits of Staying Connected to your Alma Mater

April 5, 2017

We’ve all heard about the power of networking and building relationships. You typically hear about this first as a college student from one of your professors or in a career services presentation you were required to attend. As a college student, networking with visiting alumni was a way of improving your chances of finding an internship or job. Additionally, meeting with alumni gave you an opportunity to ask career questions and gain advice from professionals who had been in your shoes.

When I was a student, networking with alumni was something I looked forward to. It could be awkward at times; nevertheless, I gained more from having a meaningful conversation with someone “in the real world” than I did from searching for answers on the internet or learning about hypothetical situations in a classroom. I enjoyed learning about their experiences in the professional world and watching them feel nostalgic when recounting their experiences and asking whether that famous sub shop or bar that served 50 cent beers was still in business.

As a student, the benefits to connecting with alumni are obvious; however, many alumni fail to see that staying in touch with their alma mater can be symbiotic. Five years ago, my alma mater, SUNY Oswego, asked me to attend their School of Business Alumni Symposium to present and network with students. Ever since attending that event, I’ve made it a point to say YES when the college asks me to come back and meet with students.

So what are the benefits to staying connected to your alma mater?

  • Recruitment: The students who engage with alumni at these events are typically top performers and eager to learn. At some point, your company will need to hire some fresh blood—so be a superhero and tell your company about that talented student you connected with. There might even be a referral bonus in it for you.
  • New Business Opportunities: You don’t just meet students at these events. I’ve met very prominent alumni and connected with some spectacular people that I continue to build relationships with. One of those people is going to need my expertise or my company’s services down the road.
  • Future Collaborations: You may meet someone, dare I say it, smarter than you at one of these alumni events. Someone with unlimited potential, who just needs a little push in the right direction. Be a mentor and help that person—someday they might be running a Fortune 500 company and remember what you did and return the favor.
  • Personal Branding: Do you want to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry? Take the opportunity at these alumni events to expand awareness of your experience and the initiatives you’re spearheading.
  • Paying it Forward: After I meet or speak to students at my alma mater, some contact me and often ask for résumé critiques or professional advice. I always help these students because someday I may need their experience and, most likely, they’ll be willing to help.
  • Star Power: You never know who you might meet. I was asked to be an alumni “career connector” at SUNY Oswego’s Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell Media Summit in 2014. I met Al Roker, Charlie Rose and Connie Shultz (to name a few). It was pretty cool!

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you of the benefits of connecting with your alma mater and building relationships with students and alumni. A good first step to connect with yours is to call or email the alumni office and see if they have any current opportunities for you or ask that they keep you in mind in the future. It’s that easy!

John Jiloty

is Senior Vice President of  Growth Channels and Content for The Martin Group. Learn more about our Social Media and Content Marketing expertise.

Follow John on Twitter @jjiloty

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