In one of my other Linkedin Articles, I wrote about effective messaging and the importance of trying to find something in common with the person you are trying to elicit response from. One of the stronger bonds to find in common with a stranger is being a fellow College Alumni! Linkedin's Alumni Tool is one of their most underused and I believe underrated tools that are tied to the Linkedin platform!
'Aine Cane, Reporter on the Careers Section for Business Insider writes a nice short piece on this (http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-use-linkedin-alumni-tool-2017-1). I recommend taking a look at if time permits, it's well written! 'Aine's perspective is for job seekers and how this can be incredibly valuable to make potential job connections with members of their school alumni. However, for my piece I'm going to take a different perspective. I want to share some valuable strategies on how the Small Business and Entrepreneurial Community can also utilize Linkedin Alumni for their advantage.
The search functionality works very similar to the main page, however in my opinion the layout and functionality of this page is set up much more clean and user friendly! In the top right corner is a drop down to choose your University then directly below that are 3 drop down categories giving you options for graduated/attended, start year and end year. If you go down a little more, the tool allows you to design your search as granular as you like. It allows you to sort your alumni by three areas (where they live, where they work and what they do). As you can see from a business perspective, this can be incredibly invaluable in helping you construct a list of potential customers that attended the same University as you. More important, the Alumni Tool provides you with endless information about your fellow alumni! This is critical when designing a strategy to approach these people for potential business opportunities. This is where I will spend the remainder of the article covering.
For anyone selling a product or service, I think Linked did an amazing job designing this product that can compete with any paid marketing list out there, best of all its free! Depending on your product or service, this tool can narrow down your demographic searches pretty thoroughly with the flexibility to do it anyway you want. This will help you design a unique and powerful message geared toward that specific demographics' interest. Of course the secret weapon with the message is you can lead in with the commonality of attending the same school. Let me present an example to really illustrate how this can be powerful!
Example: Let's say you designed a product for coffee drinkers who wanted to make their own fresh cold brew coffee out of the convenience of their own home. You can use the tool to narrow down a few different demographic categories based on their age, region they live in and what they do for a living to connect with them through a message that you know will pique their interest. So for example if you want to find people in your age category that you might of graduated with. An effective strategy might be to establish the relationship of "we went to school together and graduated together, I would love to catch up to see where you are at now and what you are doing after graduation". That approach is harmless and will usually elicit a response back. Once connected and the relationship is established or re-established, introducing your product in a non-threatening manner will be easy.
To my Small Business Capitalist and Entrepreneurial audience, to be honest with you I think this the most valuable tool I can introduce to you in helping you build your business! Stay tuned for more tips in future articles.
Steve Rosen-Talent Acquisition Consultant