Networking with Alumni

Tip of the Week from Diane Murray

Diane Murray, Director of Alumni Relations and Outreach for Grady College

This week we sat down with Diane Murray to chat about best practices and exclusive tips on networking with alumni. Since she is responsible for connecting alumni back to the college, and is in constant contact with Grady grads, we knew she would have some insider information on networking with this group.

On Wednesday, April 6, from 12-1 p.m., Grady College and the UGA Career Center will host a Virtual Networking Hour with students and alumni. Read Diane's tips as you prepare for this and other networking events.

Q: What is a good starting point for students preparing for a networking event?
A: Ahead of time, try to think of 3-4 things you want to know. A few interesting questions to ask are about the connection's first job, what professional organizations are relevant to their current and your desired field, and questions about lifestyle in different cities.

Q: Is there a certain protocol for contacting alumni?
A: The majority of our alumni are receptive to hearing from students. When you reach out to someone for the first time, be specific about how you got their information, how you met them or where you saw them so that they can make that Grady or UGA connection right away. Also, be specific about what it is you're looking for from the connection, such as having interest in learning more about an internship at their company.

Q: What are your dos and don'ts for networking?
A: Don't be afraid to do it. Don't be hesitant to branch out from what you think you may want to do, because every connection is a good connection regardless of their current field or graduation year.
Do meet as many people as you can. Networking with your fellow students is also important because down the road someone may end up somewhere that is of interest to you. You'll want to cast a wide net and take advantage of every opportunity you have to meet somebody.

Q: How do you recommend students extend the connection past a networking event?
A: Definitely follow up even if it's just to say thank you. Requesting an informational interview can be beneficial if it's something students are genuinely interested in. Be aware of what that person or company is doing so that even three months from now you can mention a new initiative from the company, or follow up about something else that interests you to stay on their radar.

Q: In your opinion, what is the advantage of networking with UGA alumni?
A: The shared experience that students and alumni have break down some barriers and make you stand out a little more in the crowd, which students should use to their advantage. A lot of our alumni look back to us and want Grady students and graduates to take certain internships and job roles because they know that our students will do well in the workplace.

Q: What should students expect from the upcoming Virtual Networking Hour?
A: The virtual networking hours are a great way for students to connect with alumni in a less intimidating fashion, since it is all online and text only. Students will have the opportunity to select an area of study they're interested in and will be randomly paired up with alumni who also select that area, such as public relations or journalism. There will be a designated amount of time to ask questions, then you switch to another person. At the end of the event, students will get a synopsis of the conversation and contact information for each connection.

Q: Aside from the upcoming Virtual Networking Hour, what are additional ways students can get connected with UGA alumni?
A: We mostly encourage our students and alumni to sign up for the Grady Mentorship Program. There are additional virtual and in-person networking events throughout the year, whether Grady-specific or with other UGA alumni. Additionally, we have our LinkedIn group and various events with Grady speakers that happen throughout the year. My personal favorite alumni event is homecoming, which is a very relaxed setting.

Get Connected with Grady Alumni Resources!

Diane invites current students and alumni to get involved with Grady Alumni resources and events. If you are interested in participating in the upcoming Grady Virtual Networking Hour this Wednesday, April 6, from 12-1 p.m., please register here.

Additional Resources:

Grady Alumni Website
Grady Young Alumni Council
LinkedIn: Grady College Alumni
Facebook: UGA Grady College
Twitter: @UGAGrady and @UGAGradyCareers