Can a summertime social lead to professional success?
It might be a bit of a stretch to claim that a social interaction can make or break an individual’s career prospects, but savvy networkers know that social interactions are integral to effective network building – and that includes events during the summer season.
“Utilizing the UNC Bear Network and taking part in alumni events are easy ways to find people you share a common bond with because at the end of the day we are all Bears,” shares alumnus Jason Brinkley ’04.
Brinkley, a Denver-based attorney, is a member of UNC’s alumni board where he contributes his time and expertise toward strengthening the university’s alumni network.
“Two of the most important aspects of building a strong professional network are finding people you share a common bond with and then following up with those people once you have had a chance to meet with them one on one.”
Fellow alumni board member Alex Lewis '10 agrees, adding that "Having a mutual and shared experience is critical to making long-term connections at networking events. I've leveraged my shared experience at UNC to help develop quick and meaningful connections with alumni at networking events."
UNC’s alumni association makes the process of meeting fellow alumni, easy by providing opportunities to connect in person and online. Assistant director of special events Christina Edwards is responsible for planning and promoting the alumni association’s signature events, including summer programming. She works with alumni volunteers like Brinkley and Lewis to promote the association’s efforts to build and strengthen alumni connections with one another and back to UNC.
Edwards looks for interests, or affinities, shared by a group of alumni, such as class year, industry or geography and then plans an event or program that brings the group together to facilitate network building.
“Attending an alumni event is the perfect opportunity to meet new people and enhance your innate alumni network,” says Edwards.
“I’m most looking forward to the Rockies event this summer, it will be a great opportunity for alumni to connect with one another and UNC, especially for our recent graduates who are just beginning their careers,” shares Edwards. “We are expecting 150 alumni to participate this year, including many of our younger graduates.”
For large events like the Rockies game, participants can expect to meet a lot of fellow alumni, with several leading to professional connections. Attending an alumni event may seem intimidating at first, so the alumni association offers resources for alumni to gain the confidence and experience to make the most of their attendance.
“A Bear Network Live chat is an easy first step to practice networking conversations and gain the career advice and confidence recent graduates are seeking for before attending an alumni event in person,” says Chris Garcia ’08, assistant director of alumni relations.
Garcia recommends scheduling time to practice networking conversations, and plan to send follow up emails and LinkedIn invitations to fellow participants. While an event is a great opportunity to socialize and engage with fellow Bears, the additional effort alumni take before and after an event makes a real difference in putting their network to work.
“Our office hosts monthly Bear Network Live networking chats, offers career resources and hosts events, because we believe that an alumni network is one of the most valuable resources graduates have when they leave UNC. I encourage alumni, especially our recent graduates, to make use of the alumni association as they build their careers and network,” advises Garcia.
Smart scheduling, networking conversations and personal follow-up will turn your summer social calendar into a season of network building.
“Take these opportunities to meet, connect and stay in touch with alums, and in very short order your network will grow and new opportunities will present themselves,” says Brinkley.
Upcoming Summer 2017 Events
- July 12: Bear Network Live online career chat
- July 15: Campaign for UNC: Los Angeles, CA
- July 17: UNC Accounting Program Annual Golf Tournament
- August 6: UNC @ the Rockies
- August 11: UNC Rugby Golf Tournament
- August 14: Blue & Gold Club Golf Tournament
- September 9: UNC at Florida
- September 16: UNC at CU