If you graduated from a college program, chances are you already have a treasure trove of LinkedIn connections you haven't fully tapped into yet.
I'm talking about your alumni network. They have a lot in common with you: taking classes with the same professors, been in the same student organizations, and hung out at the same late night spots you used to go to.
Therefore, alumni often have good memories of their college experiences and are willing to extend a helping hand to another alum.
Where can you find them on Linkedin?
Go to your LinkedIn homepage and click on the My Network tab. After that, it should bring up a drop down menu. Click on Find Alumni.
For this example, I am showing The University of Texas at Austin's LinkedIn alumni base of almost 300,000 people.
As you can see, you can filter and search by where they live, where they work, and what they do.
For example, if you are a software engineer at a company but want to work for Apple, then you would find an alum that currently works at Apple and is in an engineering role. Or even better yet, find an alum in a senior engineering position.
After connecting with them through coffee, video chat, or a phone chat, you would be able to gather more insight on how the hiring process works and what types of challenges they are facing internally that you could help solve. You can even ask if they would be open to referring you to the position you want. If there isn't a position open yet, ask if they can keep an ear out about when one does open up.
Other than using this tool for connecting to people in the local area to land your next job, you can also use this to relocate to new cities and to conduct a career change.
Relocation use case
If you were planning to relocate to San Francisco and wanted to find alumni working at specific companies you are interested in, then you would click on San Francisco. It would filter to just the 9,000+ people in San Francisco who went to UT Austin.
Apple, one of your dream companies, has hired 230 UT Austin grads. So you click on Apple bar, and scroll down to see all the Apple employees in your alumni network.
Click on their profiles and send them a LinkedIn message to start the conversation.
Career Change use case
What if you want to switch from one career to a new career? For example, what if you want to go from sales to marketing?
You could filter the alumni results to just people currently in marketing positions. After some more filtering of the alumni in marketing positions by going through their LinkedIn profiles, you may find a number of them also have a sales background.
Those are the most relevant people for you to talk to when figuring out how to make the transition from sales to marketing because they've already successfully done a career change.
How do you reach out to them?
On LinkedIn, you can shoot them a connection request with some information about the alumni connection, which year you graduated, and why you are reaching out to them.
However, this connection invite often requires knowledge of what their email is. To help you with you finding their company email, here's a post on finding almost anyone's email address.
Sometimes, they also list their email on their LinkedIn profile.
If you want 3 email templates on how to connect with people at the companies you want to work for, download them at http://mimzheng.com.
In the download PDF file, I've included the email template for reaching out to alumni to help you in your job search.