By: Tammy J. Halstead, M.A., Director of Alumni Advising & Development
Imagine having a robust and dynamic network of people in your corner. Each member of this professional network interacts frequently and stays connected over time. When something new or interesting is going on in your career field, the network spreads the news, and, when facing a professional challenge, members of the network brainstorm strategies. Talking through an idea or project is a phone call away. It is not uncommon for a member of the group to facilitate introductions to others because, “I thought you two would enjoy connecting." Having this type of professional advocacy network is valuable, fulfilling, and provides a wealth of resources for everyone involved. If your professional network is already there – congratulations! Keep it up! If you are not quite there yet, you may be thinking “How do I get there?”
Developing a network of advocates takes time and multiple interactions, allowing contacts and potential contacts to get to know one another. Many alumni feel pretty comfortable with reaching out to fellow alumni or colleagues in their fields (or fields of interest) for an initial conversation, and there are many resources available to facilitate those first contacts. LinkedIn, for example, is a powerful resource that I recommend to alumni everyday because it can help you find and connect to potential advocates, fellow alumni, and professionals in your career field or fields of interest (your Regional Alumni Chapter and the alumni directory online are also great resources).
Often, the challenge, though, is staying connected after that first outreach. What do you do once you are “Linked?”
The move from an initial outreach to an advocate relationship takes commitment, planning, action, and, most importantly, a genuine interest in building a mutually beneficial relationship. But, it is not difficult. Here are a few ways to get started to developing your own network of advocates!