Secret LinkedIn Prospecting Tool: LinkedIn Alumni

Alumni

I am a complete sucker for technology hacks and/or little known tricks. Recently I attended a webinar about social prospecting, and a hidden gem of a trick was mentioned that I just had to learn more about: LinkedIn Alumni.

I think you’ll agree that there are few conversation starters more powerful than a shared alma mater.  Most people have a deep nostalgia for their college or university. Those formative years have a very powerful place in most peoples’ hearts, and when you find another person that shares those feelings for the same school, it can make an instant connection with that person.

LinkedIn has a great tool that gives you a view into professionals from your alma mater. The LinkedIn Alumni page provides high-level insights, as well as access to the more detailed professional profiles alumni have shared. What a great place to mine for some prospects.

Homecoming 101

So, how do you access this view into thousands of your closest collegiate brothers and sisters?

  1. Go to Linkedin.com
  2. Log into your account
  3. Copy and paste this URL into your browser’s URL toolbar and hit enter: LinkedIn.com/edu/alumni
  4. Voila! You are now viewing all of the people on LinkedIn from the school listed on your profile

Have you attended multiple schools? No problem. In the top right corner of the LinkedIn Alumni page you will see an area to view other universities.

Secret LinkedIn Prospecting Tool: LinkedIn Alumni Click To Tweet

Find your classmates

I graduated from Ithaca College (go Bombers!) so admittedly my alumni page has far fewer hits than a large state university – but still, 46K IC alumni is a very large pool of potential connections. Obviously I need to filter this list to be narrower in scope to render it a useful prospecting funnel.

Some great filtering ideas:

  • Use attended rather than graduated. This will give you a better list of those that were at your school when you were there.  Some people take longer to graduate than 4 years, so this widens the reach. Also, this will include connections that may not have graduated from your school due to transfer, or… other reasons.

LinkedIn Alumni Search

  • Stay local. You can customize “where they live” to be more specific to your current location. Click on the + Add, and start typing your current city.  Not seeing an option for your location? Try the nearest large city, for me Greater Philadelphia Area did the trick.

LinkedIn Alumni Search

Find Second level connections – Click on Next button (below the End Year field in the header) for more filtering options, including the important How You Are Connected filter – 1st and 2nd degree connections are your bread and butter.  1st degree alumni are people you are already connected with. 2nd degree alumni are your potential prospects. Click on the bar above the 2nd degree number, and now you have a great filtered list to start your collegiate-prospecting initiatives.

LinkedIn Alumni Search

LinkedIn Alumni SearchInvites and prospecting mixers

Now that you’ve found your potential alumni prospects, it’s time to invite them to connect. While you have the option to connect right from the filtered view, DO NOT click on that Connect option. The whole point of this process is to have a mutual interest with the prospect—not just a cold call. By clicking the connect button below each person, you will not be given the opportunity to personalize your connection request. Consider using your mutual alumni status, and your shared connections to your advantage.

Instead, click through to an individual’s profile to connect – that will give you the option to customize your message. Because these are second degree prospects, you  see your mutual connection, and from there, you can take a few different approaches:

  • Ask that first degree connection for an introduction
  • Reach out directly to the new second degree prospect, and mention the mutual contact as a point of reference, as well as your shared alumni connection
  • Reach out with a customized request message mentioning your mutual alma mater and ask to connect

Once you have made some inroads on the alumni connection front, consider how you can build relationships with these prospects. Some networking ideas to consider would be alumni related events: maybe a local alumni wine and cheese gathering, or an alumni group outing to a local sporting event.  Maybe there is an alumnus that you know that you could feature as a speaker in your office. Or a golf day, the ideas are pretty limitless. But the goal is the same: build relationships based on your connection to your school and your fellow alumni.

Happy prospecting!

Before implementing any of the above ideas, please check with your legal and compliance department.

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Heather Wilson

Heather Wilson

Heather Wilson is the social media contributor for Practically Speaking and social media manager within the SEI Advisor Network.

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