During recruitment, we hear over and over again that one of the biggest benefits of joining a sorority is the networking opportunities that members can use to get internships and jobs. That’s all well and good, but the problem is that no one really tells you how to leverage the alumnae in your organization to find opportunities for yourself, particularly in terms of a career. Here are some tips on how to actually network within your sorority.
Use LinkedIn Appropriately
Almost every national sorority has a LinkedIn group, and you should definitely join it. What you shouldn’t do is post indiscriminately on the group’s message board. Messages such as, “My name is Lindsay and I’ve moving to Dallas and am looking for a job in PR” won’t cut it. As an alumna, I delete these emails without even opening them, because quite frankly, posts like this just strike me as lazy. Instead, use your organization’s LinkedIn group to find alumnae in your ideal location who have careers in the field you are interested in. Ask them to connect and then send personalized messages to them that do not ask them for a job. Start off by asking them for advice or if they would mentor you in the field. Wait to ask about career opportunities once you’ve developed a relationship.
Attend Alumnae Events
Odds are, there is an alumnae chapter of your organization in the place you want to live post-college, and meeting the members of that chapter can be a great way to get leads on potential opportunities. The perfect time to take advantage of this is during a school break. If you are going to be in your preferred postgrad city during your break, seek out the alumnae chapter and ask if there are any events that you can attend. Most alumnae chapters have monthly events, so odds are good that there will be something you can go to, and very few alumnae chapters would turn down the opportunity to meet with a potential new member of their chapter. Plus, they will be impressed with you for taking the initiative to meet with them before graduation as opposed to waiting until you move after college. It’s entirely possible that the event itself won’t be of interest to you — who wants to attend a Sunday afternoon tea when you could be at the bar knocking back shots with your hometown friends? However, the prime opportunity for networking makes it worth attending.
Make Friends With Your Advisors
It may seem like your advisors have no lives. I mean, they have all kinds of time to volunteer with your chapter, so what else could they possibly have time to do? Well, they likely have a job of some sort, and even if their career paths are not ones you want to follow, they may have friends (maybe even other alumnae) who are in the field you are interested in. The bottom line is that you never know who they know who could serve as a hookup for a sweet gig. Make sure your interaction with your advisors benefits you. If you are an officer who works directly with an advisor, try to impress her the same way you would a boss at a job. Respond to her promptly, meet deadlines (or even *gasp* get something done early), follow the rules, and be professional in your communication. If you aren’t an officer or you don’t have an advisor, go out of your way to make sure your chapter’s advisors notice you (for positive reasons, not your borderline stripper dance performance at formal).
Put It On Your Résumé (Correctly)
There are so many aspects of being in a sorority that prepare you for the real world. Learning how to work with large groups of people, managing time appropriately, budgeting your money: all of these things are great to put on your résumé if you do it the right way. For instance, as social chair, you didn’t “throw huge parties,” you “planned and executed a variety of large-scale events.” Think critically about what you did during your time as an undergraduate member and put it on your résumé in a way that conveys your experience to a potential employer. If you need help, ask an alumna you’ve connected with for guidance or hit up your university’s career center, but be sure to find someone who understands what happens in a sorority and how that translates to real-life experience. I once had a résumé expert tell me to take all of my sorority experience off because “people wouldn’t get it.” Given that my current boss hired me because he was a fraternity man and understood the work I had done, I’m glad I didn’t listen to her..