They’ve been in your shoes! Connecting to alumni on LinkedIn

graduates in a row

James Cracknell, Pippa Greenwood, Jamie Cullen, Tomasz Schafernaker, Falz – the list of Reading University alumni covers a range of sectors and some high profile individuals. It’s an impressive list of those who have achieved in their disciplines  And as current students are meant to engage with alumni it makes sense to reach out to them doesn’t it? Well, probably not.

Alumni are generally very keen to retain links with the university. Some will contribute to research or knowledge transfer, some will donate funds or sponsor initiatives. Others will mentor and support current students. And from your point of view that’s exciting. You have the chance to speak to those who have been where you are, had the same anxieties perhaps, or the same uncertainties.

What are alumni?

Alumni (or alumnus, singular) is the term for previous students of an institution. You are an alumnus of the school you attended and will be of Reading University when the time comes. Universities have Alumni Development or Engagement departments to continue to engage with alumni and, around the world, alumni groups form and meet up socially or for networking.

The university collates profiles and “stories” from alumni. It’s a great introduction to what alumni do after university and the collection includes profiles from a range of academic disciplines. New profiles are being added regularly and alumni are encouraged to submit one.

How do I find them?

LinkedIn is probably the easiest and most powerful way of finding and connecting to alumni. If there’s a profile on the alumni website that you’d be interested in contacting, they may be on LinkedIn. Just use the LinkedIn search box to see what comes up.

You can find other alumni using the alumni tool on LinkedIn:

Step 1    Find “Reading University” (School) in the search box

Step 2    Use the side navigation to select “Alumni”

Step 3    Use keywords in the alumni search box to find relevant contacts

How do I approach them?

The trickier bit!

With LinkedIn you aren’t looking to have thousands of connections that you cannot engage with. Be selective and ensure those you are connected to are people you want to build a relationship with. When you connect with somebody on LinkedIn you should use the short message box to introduce yourself and explain the connection request. Simply being a current Reading student won’t be enough for many alumni! Explain how what they’re doing is of interest to you – the more informed you seem, the better.

For example:

“Dear Kate,

You recently shared an article about transport planning in Wiltshire and the impact on tourism. I’m interested in local infrastructure planning and would appreciate if we could connect to discuss?

James (BSc Construction Management, Reading)

What am I asking them for?

Alumni are usually very happy to connect to students who are genuinely interested in their careers and experience. We have resources to help you learn how to network effectively. We recommend this LinkedIn Learning course (you’ll need your university log-in credentials to access the site) to get you started.

Initially you are asking for some insights and advice about careers in the industry. You are asking them to share their experience – bear in mind they have not have followed a “conventional” route to get to their position. You may also find that they are connected to other people you’d be interested in hearing from.

What next?

Using LinkedIn to find alumni can really help you build the knowledge for your career.

We recommend booking an appointment with a careers consultant to discuss how to build and sustain these relationships. We also offer webinars and workshops on networking skills.

Book appointments, webinars and workshops here.

Permanent link to this article: