Friday, April 29, 2016

Networking: Leverage LinkedIn's Alumni Tool

You often hear about the importance of networking, but networking can seem vague and challenging to do. Luckily, you are part of an extensive network of WGU students and alumni and LinkedIn has created a great tool for you to use to tap into that network.

LinkedIn's Alumni Tool

LinkedIn's Alumni Tool helps you explore student and alumni career paths from colleges and universities worldwide and build relationships that can help you along the way. Review the steps below to connect with WGU Students and Alumni today.

Find: Navigate to www.linkedin.com/alumni to start. The school you will see will automatically default to Western Governors University if you have Western Governors University on your LinkedIn profile as your most recent education.

Explore: There are almost 60,000 WGU students and alumni on LinkedIn! You can narrow down the profile results in a variety of ways. At the top of the Alumni page you will see three subheads: "Where they live," "Where they work," and "What they do."  You can also click the arrow to the right to view additional categories, which include "What they studied," "What they're skilled at" and "How you are connected."

Research: Say you are a current information technology student living in Austin, TX and you would like to see where other WGU students and alumni in Austin are working and the positions they hold within IT. Click on the magnify glass by “Where they live” and type in Austin, Texas in the search bar. Select Austin, Texas Area. Next, click on the blue bar that says “Informational Technology” under “What they do” and you have a list of where students and alumni in the Austin area are working in IT. This is just one example, the search options are endless!

Connect: Most individuals want to help out fellow students and alumni and are happy to have a conversation and exchange information. If you find someone who is working at a company of interest and/or in a position of interest, request to connect. Keep the request simple, for example:

I am a fellow WGU IT student in the Austin area. Thanks for considering my request to connect.

If they accept your request to connect, consider reaching out to schedule an informational interview. You are not asking for a job but rather gathering information to explore career options and learn more about an organization, their needs and the requirements for a particular job.  Your initial outreach could be something like:

Thanks in advance for your time. It is great to connect with a fellow WGU student/alum. I am reaching out because I would like to learn a little more about your company and career path.

I am currently employed as a (position title) with (xyz company) while pursuing my Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. I am exploring options for the next stage of my career.  

If you could spare 15 minutes out of your busy schedule, I would welcome the opportunity to ask you a few questions on an informational basis.  

Follow-up: After conducting an informational interview, make sure to send a thank you note. You can also ask if they have other connections that they would recommend with whom you speak. Keep your new connection informed of any career updates and, if appropriate, let them know if you find a position within their company to which you would like to apply. They may be able to provide you with a name to address your application materials or offer to share your resume with the recruiter or hiring manager.

Before reaching out, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and is focused on your career goals. WGU Career & Professional Development provides great resources for strengthening your profile. We are also available to provide one-on-one assistance to make sure all your LinkedIn questions are answered