In today's day and age, professional growth of an individual is multifaceted, and one contributing factor is one's network. The art of networking has evolved , diving deep into the complexly connected world that we see today. Yet, certain basics still form the foundation of networking. In the professional world, people network to know other people, and to identify opportunities that they can bring to the table. In this atmosphere it is important to know how to network.
That being said, have you ever been in a situation where you had to get in touch with an alumnus you have not spoken to before? So lets start there, let’s explore how to network with your alumni.
Before you start, you have to understand where the professional community of the world is. Today, everyone is online and be it a recruiter, an acquaintance, a long lost friend or your dear alumni, they will look you up on the internet first. So what’s the first step?
Build / Update your LinkedIn profile.
Like it or not, LinkedIn has been recognized as the largest online professional network. It is actively being used by employers to understand prospective employees, their history and accomplishments. There are many guides out there to teach you how to setup your profile, including LinkedIn’s own integrated guide. Maybe, it’s time to check that out.
Building an online brand
At the pace the world’s running, what you post online is like getting a tattoo. It’s just there – you can control who sees it, but cannot completely hide it. The first step here would be to Google yourself. See what comes up. What you might have commented, or what you may have tweeted might cost you a hefty opportunity. On the other hand, your thoughts and work online, may fetch you an excellent offer as well.
Done! How do I ask Alumni for Jobs now ?
Hold On! Networking is a commonly misunderstood concept; it is not a 'receive only' system! You should not expect to get a job the very next day when you network with someone. When you network with an alumnus, he or she would be inclined to guide/help you on the common ground (your Alma mater) you share. Yet, how you approach the alumnus makes or breaks the relationship.
Build a Healthy long term Relationship !
Here are the 5A's of networking  that will help you build a lasting relationship with an alumnus.
At this stage you give and receive answers to questions you might have; general questions, career related, higher education, job specific or others.
Here you reciprocate advice and guidance in improving performance at your job or developing an individual strategy for your career growth.
Long term guidance, providing information on available opportunities and relate developments in fields or sectors of interest.
At this stage giving and receiving references, speaking in favor of the other person and suggesting them as a suitable candidate for any role becomes comfortable.
Now a networking relationship becomes much like a mentoring relationship and would become something mutually beneficial in the long term.
When should I start trying to build good relations with my alumni ?
Networking with alumni shouldn’t happen only when you are in need. First, you plan ahead about your career in campus: be it internships, higher education, job or etc. Then use your institution’s alumni website to look up alumni who are working in the same areas you aspire to work in. Then using the five networking roles mentioned above to build a relationship before any type of favor is requested.
Building a professional network comes handy throughout a person’s career. It proves worthy while recruiting, shifting careers, looking for references or even recommendation on vacations. Beginning a networking relationship based on common ground makes it easy to start a conversation. Given the shared affection towards the Alma mater, networking with your alumni is the easiest and most effective, provided that you know how to. After all, building a good relationship is the cornerstone of good networking!
 The 5 A's of Networking was fabricated by The Careers Group, University of London, in the MOOC "Enhancing your career and employability skills" through Coursera.