Many of us have heard the phrase “it’s not what you know, but who.” It’s true: networking with established professionals is critical to success. Building networks with established professionals can lead to informational interviews, assistance in changing careers, exclusive job postings, and more. Two major places people can build their network are in higher education and business. Both invest in strong alumni networks with varying goals.
For colleges, alumni networks are important sources of fundraising. Student organizations also benefit from connecting their current members with graduated ones for mentorship and professional expertise. On the corporate side, alumni networks help the business drive referrals, increase sales, and connect mentors with mentees.
The effort colleges and businesses put into keeping in touch comes with measurable benefits. Businesses that actively engage alumni see up to a 44% increase in net new business. In a study of venture capital investments over 19 years, 1 in 3 investments happened when the founder and investor attended the same college or university. When someone starts a business, the founders who went to schools with large alumni networks raise more capital than other entrepreneurs. Education networks are more important to early-stage investors than school quality or shared geography.